Sometimes, it’s really scary to feel small, and sometimes it’s really nice. Floating down the river between huge red rock cliffs, sitting on the ground looking up at a 7 foot sunflower, laying on your back taking in the immensity of a starry night sky, and even standing in front of a group of 24 second graders; for me, feeling small was the first part of my internship I really had to wrap my mind around.
Having the opportunity to experience the landscape and community of Moab while spending the spring and summer interning with the Youth Garden Project has been nothing short of a dream. I strongly believe in the life-changing empowerment that is sparked by learning in an outdoor setting, and YGP has been the perfect place to connect with students and really get the fire started. I appreciate how the after school, spring break, and summer camp programs encourage kids to draw connections between themselves and the natural world. In addition to a deeper appreciation for the environments around them, these experiences also give our YGP kids a space to develop a sense of community and a place to develop a confidence in themselves.
Arriving in February, with a background in outdoor education, I was looking forward to a season of growing and learning. Getting into town for the first time, I was driving north on 191 and had to stop on the side of the road. Now, I know exactly how lucky I am, I’ve lived and worked and played in the magical mountains of Washington, in the still and beautiful Northwooods of Minnesota, in the historic forests of Massachusetts, but none of that had prepared me for what I saw. I was stunned by the vastness of the landscape, the strength of the rocks, the tenacity of the plants thriving in the ground. I felt so small. How would I ever be able to make any sort of mark on this place?
Harnessing those emotions of nervousness, smallness, maybe even a little fear, was something that came naturally at the Youth Garden. These skills come inherently with learning about growth and change. YGP provides a setting and curriculum for teaching science, environmental awareness, social capital, and self awareness for everyone that walks into the garden, between the rows and under the Allumawood gazebos. Interdisciplinary experiences like these are the foundation of my passion for education, and my desire to influence change by being part of healthy, creative organizations. YGP grows and cultivates patient leaders, critical and creative learners, and students who participate in their local communities. As an experiential and environmental educator, I love seeing students working together to build a greater understanding of the world around them. I love being the one to shape those interactions and facilitate learning.
Sometimes I still feel small, but it’s not an intimidating smallness. It’s a smallness that parallels that of a seed: maybe little in size, but great in potential. My time at YGP is coming to a close but I will take everything I’ve learned here with me forward. I’ll miss the traffic on the bike path, I’ll miss seeing plants germinate, grow, and produce, and I’ll especially miss the observations and conversations with HMK and Moab Charter School students. I want to say thank you to everyone I’ve met and worked with along the way that have shown me how powerful being small can be.
by Amy Moscowitz, Spring/Summer Program Instructor, 2016