A New Way to Serve with SCA’s Digital Educator Naturalists

The SCA’s NH Conservation Corps Digital Educator Naturalists have been hard at work creating and delivering remote environmental education lessons for students across New Hampshire. The new position was created to continue SCA’s Education Service in New Hampshire amidst restrictions brought on by the pandemic. This crew brings a range of experiences to New Hampshire for their winter season: some have served several terms with AmeriCorps and/or the SCA, while others are new to both organizations. 
 
Members of the New Hampshire Conservation Corps are based out of Bear Brook State Park in southern New Hampshire, and live and serve together for the duration of their term. Due to the residential nature of the program, the members are able to build great connections with those in their cohort. These relationships really reinforce the power of community to strengthen the service experience. 
 
When you ask the digital educator naturalists what comes to mind when they hear the phrase “AmeriCorps service” you will likely hear the words community, commitment, and giving back. With this program specifically, Corrina Yobp said, “It’s a nice way to help those that do not get science.” Teachers, who are grappling with all the changes to education due to COVID-19, are grateful that these AmeriCorps members have been able to create unique and innovative science lessons during the pandemic. 
 
As Rita Walsh said, “My purpose in life is to help people and the world. With AmeriCorps what you are doing will benefit the world around you. Its cliché to say, but you leave the world a better place while assisting great organizations that share your values.”  
 
Beyond the service they are providing, the members are also gaining a lot personally from this 17-week program. According to Chris Grahn, “You learn about the challenges, pros, and cons of meeting with groups via the web. We have not gone into school yet but are still connecting with students. Getting to serve in the virtual world has been great.”
 
To some it is even more than the service. Madi Cranford noted that, “community collaboration and understanding of the people you are living and serving with” has been a positive benefit for her. Emily Tonn agrees that meeting people through this program and making new friends has been wonderful. Beyond the relationships, Emily is happy to be getting experience in a field she has not worked in before.   
 
Other than lesson planning and delivery skills, everyone agrees that they are learning to be resilient – serving during a pandemic has thrown them many curve balls. However, the members are adapting to the changes, overcoming challenges as they encounter them, and are making the best of the situation. Continuing to provide lessons for their classes is what motivates them to create engaging content that teaches their students about the natural environment of New Hampshire. Their work also continues the legacy of the New Hampshire Conservation Corps education program, which has been teaching New Hampshire students about earth stewardship for over twenty years. 
 
Thank you to the Digital Educator Naturalists for all of their hard work this winter and spring – your efforts have not gone unnoticed.