So yesterday started my last full week of interning here. It is drawing to a close two very long and hard months of working to get this program from a faint idea I had in my head into a finished product I could hand off to the counselors. I have to admit that it is kind of bittersweet. In one way I am moving on to the next stage and readying to graduate. In another way, it is a program I designed from start to finish and hard to leave it to others to carry on. I am still going to stop here a few times a week in the evening to upkeep the gardens. However, after Wednesday, my control of the camp will be officially handed off.
Thankfully, there are lasting images as proof of what I have started here.
It makes me feel good to know that I have at least made some small impact on the leaders of tomorrow. All told, about 1,800 of the younger campers will go through my smaller program and bring home their own summer squash. This will give them a small introduction to making small differences in their own lives. The older kids will have around 30 campers who went through the full program from start to finish. This number is much smaller, but the targeted audience is one that already wants to make a difference for animals. This gave me the chance to focus their goals and give them an example of how things can be run better at zoos and animal sanctuaries. Hopefully they will take their experience here and use it for change.
In the end, I proved that there is a way to communicate the goals of sustainability to a younger generation in a way that is both fun and educational. I provided them with hands on activities while educating them at the same time. I was able to shape the message to my target audiences. I used my citizen scientist approach to gather useful information to prove a hypothesis and complete a Sustainable Return on Investment. I hope that my program continues next year and beyond. I would love to see another intern next year grow on what I have started here (pun intended).
I know I didn’t go somewhere as cool as most of the interns. However, my goal has always been local sustainability. I want to bring change to an area that I am connected to. Yes I could go to a small developing country and do these programs. However, the largest polluters are here in the US. I want to make a bigger dent in the overall output to the atmosphere. Hopefully this will be a small trend that gets bigger.