A summer as a Natural Resource Instructor

I spent my summer in the 802 (Vermont), near the Southern shores of Lake Bomoseen in Castleton where there’s a special place. Celebrating its 50TH Anniversary this year, the location has been teaching youth about conservation and hunting for at least two generations. It’s full of memories, rustic architecture, and lots of cherishing. Although the people who work and volunteer here are from numerous backgrounds, they unanimously love the place and each other with incredible devotion. This is where I lived and worked for ten weeks during the summer: Edward F. Kehoe Conservation Camp, part of the Green Mountain Conservation Camp system, managed by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

After two long weeks of training while enduring cold weather and rain, the sun came out and the first 56 campers arrived. Working with youth takes time to figure out. There is no method or magic formula that works for all campers. Each person might learn and react to situations quite differently. I had the motivation to teach about conservation but not the skills. It took time, and I eventually figured things out. This summer I learned how to educate, interact with, and understand 12 to 16 year-olds… how to blend my passion for the environment into a curriculum that young teens could comprehend. I did not discover all of this on my own. A great deal of credit is due to the other staff members who I was able to observe, talk to, and learn from. I consider some of them masters of environmental education and am thankful they were part of the team.

On days off, I experienced Vermont (and even visited Canada) by hiking, fishing, exploring, and site seeing. The state is largely scenic, quiet, and forested. Everything is available in “maple” flavor or scent, and soft serve icecream is called a creamee (creemee, creamie…).  Many towns look like the world my parents told me about in their stories of Pennsylvanian youth: small, safe, friendly, intimate. There also seems to be as many cows as people in Vt.  So, Vermont is a simpler, quaint state. 

The fishing is excellent and wildlife is easy to spot (painted bunting, barred owl, moose, martin, raccoon, deer, ruffed grouse, loon, reptiles and amphibians of all kinds, beaver, osprey, fox, turkey, skunk, etc… Just a sampling of what I encountered without trying too hard).

My SCA/AmeriCorps summer was worth it. But now, what happens next? Finding a funded graduate program in entomology that’s compatible with my background and interests has been difficult, but is nonetheless an aspiration I will never give up on. In the meantime, I need to figure out if I will work, find an internship, or serve again. Which path do I choose, or will it choose me?

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