One of the founding principles of ecological thought is that “everything is connected to everything else.” I have believed in this simple sentence long before the science and philosophy behind it were ever fully articulated to me. And it only partly explains my journey from Edgartown waitress to Environmental Educator.
Over five years ago I began volunteering with the Vineyard Energy Project (VEP) and commuting off-island to take college level classes in renewable energy and energy efficiency at Cape Cod Community College. I was looking to funnel my passion for learning into action that would help me communicate more effectively with others about my rising concerns over global warming and climate change.
VEP nominated me for the MV Vision Fellowship in the spring of 2006. I used my fellowship award to attend Lesley University’s Audubon Expedition Institute, a post graduate program in Environmental Education which focused on experiential education. In groups of 10 – 15 students and 2 – 3 faculty, we traveled by bus within a designated bioregion each semester for ten weeks of field experience. Instead of consulting text books to learn about an area’s environmental and social issues, we explored each region firsthand, talking, listening, and interacting with the people who live and work there. Over the course of two years, the Adirondacks Park, Great Smoky National Park, the Big Island of Hawaii, the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, and the rocky Down East coast of Maine all came alive for me. The flora and fauna became close friends, and the stories revealed over time fostered a connection that amplified the learning that was taking place. And the sentence, “everything is connected to everything else” took on deeper meaning.
By 2008, I found my way back to the Vineyard to fulfill the next part of my learning journey, working as an Environmental Education Intern with the Trustees of Reservations. For me, it was the perfect blending of storytelling and getting to play in and share the beauty of my home place with others. From there, I launched my career with Edible Vineyard magazine as a writer for a department about wild, foraged food, as Advertising Coordinator, distribution manager & all-around office manager. Being a part of a small team which raised this local foods magazine from a concept through to fruition has been a very rewarding work experience for me and has challenged me to utilize my past learning in an intimate, and also public, setting.