Teaching Kids Where Their Food Comes From

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Contributed by Julie Miller, IAS Internship Manager.
“Kids get excited about their health and protecting the environment if it is presented to them in the right manner.” Lacey Russo learned this first hand when she did an internship at YMCA Camp Seymour in Gig Harbor. Lacey did her Environmental Studies capstone project working under the supervision of Becca Gjertson. Becca is the director of the Outdoor and Environmental Education program. Lacey created a curriculum for a Farm and Garden class, and both her site supervisor, and her faculty supervisor, Erik McDonald, were tremendously pleased with her work. Erik told me; “She did an amazing job on this project. I’m really impressed with it! Lacey produces top quality work. She’s a very diligent student and a go-getter. I’m so glad she was the one to do this internship.” So was Becca. She said Lacey’s work exceeded their expectations, and camp staff could not be happier with the end results of Lacey’s work. She said, “Lacey was an absolute pleasure to work with. She’s bright and hard-working. Timely with communication and consistent with updates and hours worked. She took a huge concept with lots of ideas and ran with it.” Lacey’s task was to research food consumption regulations, sustainable farming, and nutrition information with the purpose of explaining the science behind sustainable farming to kids.
Camp Seymour is located in one of stunningly beautiful coves on the Key Peninsula, and it’s the perfect place to teach school kids about the value of protecting the environment. The camp has chickens, an organic garden, and a Living Machine that recycles the camp’s waste water through six aerobic hydroponic tanks. Essentially the Living Machine is its own ecosystem. Other courses the environmental education program offer are; ornithology, forest ecology, wildlife ecology, squid dissection, salmon, reptiles, marine science, and life and death in the estuary. While Becca and her staff have identified particular projects for internships, they are opened to ideas from students who have an interest in creating an innovative project. The camp also welcomes interns for marketing, grant research/writing, and videography.
Lacey is an example of the powerful impact just one student can have on an organization, and the benefits that a student’s work can bring to the community. In return, Lacey learned how to interact in a professional environment, created networking contacts, developed her organizational skills, utilized critical thinking skills, and learned how community development programs work. Lacey said her internship helped her to feel more confident in her ability to be a professional and get into a career she will find fulfilling. Lacey took the confidence she gained and secured a job at PSNS as a Physical Science Technician.
December 17, 2014