I am now embarking on week eight of my eleven-week fellowship. My supervisor warned me in the beginning that the time would cruise by and that I need to anchor myself in the goals and objectives outlined for this position. Well, I myself am not much for anchoring. I like to drift hither and yon settling on one topic and then become swept away by another. Of course, this is not an ideal approach when you are under stringent time constraints, however, it does provide a more interesting and diverse experience.
So, I am aboard week eight and even with my go with the flow tendencies, I still have my bearings and am still true to the course. I have accomplished quite a bit. I have created and edited two environmental education (EE) programs that are founded in place and inquiry-based learning. They align with several Hawaii Division of Education (DOE) standards to assist with student learning objectives. Due to staff restrictions on the refuge, my supervisor and I have decided to focus on creating teacher-led activities. This is where educators can bring students and lead meaningful activities on the refuge without the requirement of refuge staff. I have been swamped by creating 12 of these self-led lesson plans. Below is a snip of one of my favorite self-led activities (and a classic) called “Nature Journaling”. Nature journals have been utilized for centuries for outdoor scientific research and expression of place-based emotions. Many famous naturalists, scientists, discoverers, and artists have utilized this technique. I have attached the Nature Journal templet cover and one of the pages that I created to help the students become mindful and reflect on their refuge experience.
In addition to the EE program and self-led lesson plans, I have been submerged in creating documents that should streamline the refuge staff and educator's EE experience. This includes creating a standardized EE program request form, standardized email replies to EE inquires, creating a Frequently Asked Questions document, a Field Trip Preparation Guide, and creating resources that will be posted on the website. Finally, I have created a complete rough draft of the Kealia Pond NWR EE Strategic Plan. This is a formal (yuck, who likes formal) document that will be utilized by refuge staff to accomplish 6 specific EE refuge goals. This document is the primary task of my fellowship and I am looking forward to the satisfaction of the finished product.
I am amidst the final quarter of my fellowship journey and I feel that I know the ropes and have navigated this position well. I am very satisfied with the outcomes, both intrinsic and extrinsic. Even with my ebb and flow tendencies, I believe I have a firm grasp and an even keel on successfully completing this fellowship. I am truly blessed and can not wait to see where this experience takes me next!
P.S. If you didn’t catch on to my subtle nautical references, it was to relate my text to my blog photo. The photo is of a protected barrier island where I led many EE programs.
Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP
Location: Anchorage Regional Office