If you would’ve asked me a year ago, whether I would be having some of the most fruitful and challenging times of my life at the Outer Banks Field Site, I would say you have no idea what you were talking about, but as this semester has proven, I would have been completely wrong. My name is Jerome Allen and I am a Junior Environmental Studies and Dramatic Arts major. This semester at the Outer Banks Field Site has been a wildly colorful experience filled with huge maturity and learning curves. From soaring in the sky over the islands to engaging with local storytellers, the Field Site breathes in the history of the Outer Banks and has served as a great connector between the students and community. Going off that notion, here at the Field Site, we are required to dive into an internship and attune our learning in the classroom with real-world experiences, problem solving, and interactions. This semester, I chose to work with the North Carolina Coastal Federation (or the Federation, for short), a non-profit advocacy organization focused on improving water quality for our coast.
At the Federation, I have had the opportunities to engage with independent projects and work alongside Sara Hallas on environmental education. I want to tell a story about my work with local middle school children.
On a day in late October, complimented with low winds and the soothing noises of the Pamlico Sound, the Federation hosted over 200 middle school students, divided into classes of 20; all arriving to the Manteo Office for the Federation in hourly increments between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. We had set up twelve stations and further separated the classes into groups of three to maximize the amount of independent and small-group learning with each station. The stations were about concepts such as salinity, biodiversity, and for my station, turbidity (the amount of suspended sediment in the water column). With coffee in one hand and a secchus disk in the other, I began my workshop by asking several questions such as: what is turbidity, why is it important, and how can we measure it. The students were equipped to answer the first two, and I taught them how to use a secchus disk in the Field to measure turbidity. The day ran smoothly and after leading seven workshops, I was charged with reflections and ideas.
I was mainly struck by the idea of passing on the significance of environmental conservation to the next generation. I want to uphold the notion that if children are instilled with great appreciation and understanding of environmental work, the field will expand and swell with great visionaries who can change the world for the better.
The Federation has given me a myriad of lessons, but the importance of education has definitely molded my experience and will influence my future decision-making.