A deer, two third graders, and me walk into the woods
Emma Singer '14, Resident Seasonal Outdoor Educator
Concentration: Environmental Politics, Policy, and Economics
Honors Thesis: The Effect of Nutrient Limitation on Substrate Induced Microbial Respiration at Mer Bleue Bog
Awards: Robert P. Sibley Prize, Environmental Scholar Award, Environmental Activist Award
Internship: Activist Network Intern, Greenpeace; Education Intern, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardents
Employer: Green Chimney's Clearpool Outdoor Education Center
I wake up at 6am to faint scratching on my roof, and a huffing sound through the screen. I look out to see a deer, walking off into the woods behind my small cabin. A flying squirrel climbs down the screen next to my head and off into the surrounding woods. Climbing out of bed, I walk down the hill and into a small building where some twenty third graders are already walking around looking at pictures of birds and playing with bones. I worked in West Virginia for about 2 months, before coming to Putnam County, New York—where I currently work as an outdoor educator.
My job consists primarily of taking groups of K-12th grade students into the woods and teaching them about the natural world. The kids I work with range from those from the city who have never seen a worm to kids who have been camping all of their lives. I've been doing this work for about two years now, ever since graduating from Mount Holyoke.
Largely, what has allowed me to be successful in this field is my education within the environmental studies department. Beyond learning about the ecological and geological functions of this planet, a major in environmental studies helped me to better understand a variety of schools of thought. I work with students who have had vastly different experiences from my own, which I frequently will not know anything about until I meet them.
Majoring in environmental studies gave me the tools and the will to open my mind to those experiences, and to help me better understand the needs of those students. By providing me with the space to learn about and understand the different ways in which people relate to the land, a major in environmental studies has helped me to become the best educator I can.