When I began my year at MOSS, I already knew that I loved to teach. With several seasons of environmental education under my belt, my experiences in teaching outdoors brought me joy and fulfillment. However, for all the enjoyment I received through my work, I did not fully understand it. I recognized that teaching outside, with experiential activities, was fundamentally different from formal classroom education. I also knew that nature exploration led to curiosity and question-asking, but did not see it for the scientific inquiry that it was. My year at MOSS has given me the practical skills and knowledge to identify impactful teaching methods and pedagogy, allowing me to grow both as an educator and as a student of education. Now, I know and understand the power of place-based education, and the importance of allowing students to drive their learning with their own questions and interests. This has become the foundation of my teaching philosophy: that learning is most meaningful when we are connected to it through emotion and/or place, opening the door to a curiosity that inspires us to drive our own education.

Sandy Bragg of Everything Potatoes, INC. teaches a MOSS student how to plant seed potatoes

Sandy Bragg of Everything Potatoes, INC. teaches a MOSS student how to plant seed potatoes

            Education, for me, is the tool with which we can better connect with both ourselves and our places. At MOSS, I have gained a skillset that allows me to confidently create lessons and develop curriculum that are capable of facilitating those connections for my students. That confidence comes with an understanding of how to scaffold a day of learning, building upon themes, highlighting connections between activities, and leaving space for the students’ interests to guide the day’s discoveries. More specifically, MOSS has allowed me to grow as a science educator, as I have gained a greater knowledge for how to incorporate scientific inquiry into my teaching and an understanding for the various ways in which students can further explore their environments.

A student uses a densiometer to determine canopy cover while surveying forest plots in the Payette National Forest

A student uses a densiometer to determine canopy cover while surveying forest plots in the Payette National Forest

           Moving forward after MOSS, I am excited to continue my work in the field of environmental education with new organizations, bringing these skills and understandings to new communities. I have already begun to use my experience in lesson planning while interviewing for future jobs, presenting program proposals to potential employers and expressing my philosophy on the importance of place-based education with confidence. I believe that these skills have been crucial in securing my next position as a program coordinator with the Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado Springs, and I intend to put these skills to use in order to enhance the organization’s engagement with students of all ages, continuing to work toward inspiring the public to become stewards of their communities and environments through exploration and connection.