Sarah - Canadian Ecology Centre
Discovering new things about yourself, creating lasting friendships, following your dreams, and challenging others to be their best are all honourable pursuits. What’s even better is getting to do all of these during an internship for Science Communication.
At the Canadian Ecology Centre in Mattawa, I discovered that outdoor education is a passion of mine- I just never had the opportunity to pursue it until now. I had the amazing experience of being able to lead groups of children who have never been in a forest, or a lake, or a river, or a pond before; never experienced the insight of learning about new species of trees, wildflowers, and animals; never experienced the sounds, touch, smells, and sights of the wilderness; never experienced what it feels like to be encouraged to try something new… and I have never experienced the power of nature as I did working with these children.
What made my experience even more memorable were the people that I worked with. Passionate educators, scientists, and enthusiasts who are incredible at what they do. Role models, colleagues, and friends who get up everyday and look forward to the many challenges and rewards that they receive from pursuing their passions. What I wasn’t expecting was how humble, friendly, welcoming, and warm everyone was. These people are there because they love what they do and I soon discovered how contagious that feeling was.
I followed my dreams by choosing a growing organization with quality educational programming that focused on the natural sciences. I wanted to both learn from watching others and receive feedback when I delivered programming. I also wanted to find an organization that was open to new ideas. I helped create a plan to promote their national Green Check GPS Certification Program; created an exhibit guide so they can apply for funding to build some fun and interactive exhibits; and became an outdoor educator, something that I have always wanted to do.
As for challenging others to be their best, I learned how children learn in an outdoor setting. I learned how they see the world, how they see each other, and how they make decisions… and this was only in the first hour we spent with them. You very quickly form a bond with the group you are working with and notice the subtle yet obvious moments that create those sparks of interest that can lead to lifelong passions. These are children who live in an urban environment and who have never stepped foot off pavement except in a city park. There are teens who come with a tough exterior and leave emotional because of the confidence and self-esteem they gained.
This internship was not just a Science Communication internship. This was an experience in learning about myself and learning about others. I developed new passions alongside the children who were developing passions for the first time. I created friendships alongside the children who had never opened up to another person before. I followed my dreams alongside those who were just starting to create them. Best of all, I challenged others to be their best while they challenged me to become my best.