Today as I sit in Jackson, Wyoming watching the spring sun slowly melting away winter’s snow, I reflect upon how I got here. I’m sure part of the reason is related to my inability to plant my feet in any one location for more than six months at a time, but I know a large part of how I got to where I am today is in direct response to all of my past experiences.
While attending school at SUNY Plattsburgh my knowledge of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) was based solely on the information kiosk located at the mouth of the Saranac River. That all changed after receiving an email in the spring of 2010 advertising NFCT’s summer internships.
The summer of 2010 was my first introduction into this great organization. As a member of the NFCT’s stewardship crew I traveled throughout the Northeast hosting waterway work trips, maintaining campsites, and improving portages. It was a true adventure, living out of an overfilled pick-up truck, going weeks on end without showering, and working in all types of weather. For me it was a glorious experience. Not many people can say they know how to build rock steps, lumber staircases and bog bridges. This internship gave me those skills and opened my eyes to what an amazing organization the NFCT is.
The following summer after completing my bachelor’s degree I returned to the NFCT, only this time in the role of a youth program intern. Once again I got to travel throughout the Northeast, only this time I was leading 5-day canoe trips for 10–14 year olds for the Northern Forest Explorers program. That summer I partnered with 4 different local outfitters and co-led 7 paddling trips. The kids I worked with were inspiring, coming from all different backgrounds, many from disadvantaged homes. While working with kids can be inherently stressful in many ways (and, sure, I had my moments!) this experience only reaffirmed my desires to pursue a career in education.
The following fall, I took everything I had learned from my two summers with the NFCT and went full force into pursuing a career working with children in the out-of-doors. Since then I’ve spent two years working in the field of experiential outdoor education teaching at centers in New York, Massachusetts, and now in Wyoming. I even spent a summer working as a guide with Great Glen Trails, a partner organization in New Hampshire that leads Northern Forest Explorer trips in that state.
Today, I’m an AmeriCorps volunteer working with the Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming. I have the pleasure of teaching students that come from all over the country to learn science in the amazing environment that is the Tetons. It’s an organization that I’m proud to be a part of for their role in helping to get students of all ages excited about learning and for their ability to build connections between students and their natural world. As time continues to march on I plan on staying here in Jackson for the summer working with the school’s summer programs.
A big thank you goes out to the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and their tireless staff who work hard every year to not only ensure great paddling experiences for thousands of people of all ages, but who also provide such wonderful hands-on learning experiences for many young adults through their internship programs.
Without these programs I’m not sure I would be where I am today.