I spent two years imagining myself as a graduate student at MOSS before I finally thought I was experienced enough to apply. Arriving in McCall last August was thrilling (an actual dream come true, to be honest), but it was also nerve-wracking. After being focused for so long on being accepted into MOSS, I had yet to consider where I wanted my graduate year to take me. I knew that I wanted to teach environmental education. I knew I wanted to expand my own education in science. However, if I had been told a year ago that I would end up developing and leading an environmental science course at the college level for my MOSS internship, I would not have believed myself capable. I also would never have expected to find myself podcasting and storytelling, or that my love for knitting would inspire my coursework in place-based ecology. My year at MOSS has led me on a path to a greater understanding of myself, of my aspirations, and of what I am truly capable of accomplishing.
One of the main reasons why I wanted to attend the MOSS program was because it allowed me to continue gaining experience as an educator while also expanding my own education. It was powerful to learn about the pedagogies of place- and inquiry-based education and to have the opportunity to apply those learnings in my lesson plans, seeing what worked and what needed revising. Getting to know my own leadership style and personal strengths both in class and in practice was invaluable as I navigated coursework and teaching as part of a team, learning when to jump in and when it was time for me to take a step back. Practicing science and conducting scientific research allowed me to finally connect to my own identity as a scientist, which led me to teach with greater confidence and strengthened my foundational ecological understandings. Experimenting with various methods of science communication helped me identify the importance of emotion and connection in a field that is stereotyped as apathetic and impersonal, which in turn gave me a clear perspective of my own role as a communicator in the scientific community. These various experiences helped me to build my own education philosophy, as both student and teacher. My philosophy is that our learning is most powerful when we are connected to it through emotion and/or place, which allows us to learn with our whole selves – our minds, our hands, and our hearts. My own transformation while at MOSS is an example of what can happen when education becomes entwined with experience.
My internship this summer stands as testament to that transformation. Coming to MOSS, my goal was never to teach science above the middle school level; anything more than that seemed completely outside the realm of my reality. The last year has proven that perception to be false. Since last August, I have found confidence in my skills as an educator and in my abilities as a scientist. I have discovered my voice as a communicator in the scientific world and identified my creativity as a strength in this field. These experiences empowered me to choose the environmental science course as my internship, the project that intimidated me most of all. It required me to delve deeper into curriculum development, to facilitate connections amongst my students, the community, and our environment, putting my skills in leadership and teaching to a new test. It allowed me to fully realize my abilities as both educator and scientist, and the work I accomplished for the project is something I am truly proud of. My year at MOSS pushed me to learn with my whole self, helping me to grow my confidence and identity as an educator, a leader, a communicator and a scientist.