Ending Education Season, Commencing Conservation Season


By: Christian V. McGrath

When the education season of our service began, there were tangible waves of emotion flowing throughout myself and my fellow corps members. On the evening of our teaching partner pairing, concoctions of excitement, nervousness, and positivity emanated around the room. My teaching partner ended up being Aletha and while we were optimistic about the prospect of us making a great teaching duo, I’m not sure I realized how much fun I would have and how much I would learn from my education service.

    Once education season started, Aletha & I found ourselves placed at Bernardston Elementary School on Wednesdays and Thursdays. We both had our own conservation placements on Tuesdays too. Aletha served with the Department of Conservation and Recreation, while I served at Red Gate Farms. Serving at both Bernardston and Red Gate were both fantastic opportunities for me. I never anticipated that I would be serving at an educational farm prior to this program but when it dawned on me that this was a possibility, I leapt at it. Red Gate is an amazing place operated by some of the nicest people you might ever meet. Throughout this experience, I had the chance to learn about various farm animal care, help build a shed for the rams, collect sap for maple syrup, and plenty of other awesome activities. I didn’t end up teaching any students at Red Gate but I was mostly okay with that since I had my hands full at Bernardston.

    Teaching at Bernardston was equally as rewarding an experience for me as Red Gate was. Aletha and I spent our first two weeks making observations about the different classes we would be serving with making notes about different classroom management styles and thinking about ways we could best incorporate our topics with the students we would be interacting with. While the first few weeks involved us playing some of our ideas be ear, by the end of the education season, Aletha and I were operating like a well oiled machine. It was sad saying our goodbyes to the students and staff after we had developed rapport with all of them. On the other hand, we knew we had come in and had a marvelous experience with all of them and that we should cherish that for what it was. As that has wrapped up, we’ve also had a piece of our minds elsewhere as conservation season loomed in the not-so-distant future.

    Thinking about conservation season has been a bit of a hot topic amongst myself and other corps members in recent times. In addition to completely shifting gears away from education season and completing more physical service, we also would be welcoming eight new members into our community. We all have various ideas about ways we could include them in our already constructed community but also acknowledge that we may need to step back slightly so that we do not appear overbearing. Also in the conversation has been talk about the various skills that we may potentially inherit for our conservation service. While we will get more details about each skill role, from just hearing a bit about each one, I’m most interested in carpentry compared to being a sawyer or a member of the griphoist team. However, that could easily change once our conservation training begins and I learn more about each role. No matter which skill I am assigned, I’m feeling very positive about the season ahead and serving with all of my community members, old and new. I’m sure we will learn a lot, do great things, see and contribute to amazing places, and build great relationships in addition to new bridges, staircases, and hiking trails.