This summer I did some habitat restoration in one of the parks in New Haven known as the Urban Oasis. This park has been a bit overtaken by some mugwort and Japanese knotweed and along with the Youth Conservation Corps group, we cleaned it up a bit so visitors would have access to the native trees and their corresponding signs.
Along with the park restoration, I have been working with camps hosted by the New Haven Parks & Recreation Department. I come to the camps and spend anywhere from two to four hours with the campers, whose age ranges anywhere from five to fourteen, and provide educational programs and activities. When providing these environmental education programs, I try and emphasize the idea that nature is all around us, waiting for us to pay attention, and be amazed. The campers and I have gone birding in multiple different habitat zones including coniferous forest, wetland/marsh areas, and coastal habitats.
As for myself, I have gained skills I didn’t even know I was missing. I have gained an unimaginable amount of confidence in myself and ability to deliver quality, engaging material, as well as present that information in a tangible way that the students can grasp. I have even surprised myself with how quickly I was able to pick up the information once I started the internship, such as identifying birds. I now feel confident leading a group of campers into almost any habitat (school yards, coastal areas or forests) to listen and visually identify birds. I have also gained skills in communication and coordination, in terms of the local partnerships I was able to connect with, gaining confidence when expressing my thoughts on how an event should look like, activities available etc.