When I arrived at the bird sanctuary, most of my motivation was selfish. I wanted to be here because this was what I figured my next step should be. I hadn’t stopped to
consider who I was in my position and what that meant to the people I was soon going to be sharing these experiences with.
After my internship, I’ve gained a great deal of insight into the importance of what an interpreter or educator does. These people have a tremendous opportunity to influence the public’s minds and perceptions of the environment, and this is a sort of art form I’m currently practicing.
We live in a time where information is abundant and plentiful; this can be both good and bad. Information is tainted and manipulated faster and more frequently than ever before. So for myself and others in a similar position to mine, it is clear that we must do our very best to disseminate information that is both accurate and relevant. Additionally, we must make the extra effort to not just talk to others but be heard by them.
I’ve quickly realized that I am in a position to truly make a difference for a greater good. Through my communication I have the opportunity to inspire others to be stewards of nature, and this is something I try to bring with me in the workplace. This is not only important to the people who choose to come here that are ready to learn with open minds, but also the young people who may have never been exposed to any environmental education at all. For these young citizens, the things they learn will come to affect them throughout the rest of their lives, so it is imperative that they become educated and curious about these things as soon as possible.
When we help inspire others to evolve their perceptions and how they view life here on earth, the resources available, and all other implications that this entails, we are bringing about a very necessary change. True change comes from people being knowledgeable and motivated to make a difference. It is easy for us to sit back in the shadows and even though we may know the difference between right and wrong, we often do not take action. But by having an interpreter or educator who understands this portion of their role, and is determined to fulfill it, we just might be able to create a world full of environmentally conscious stewards who are ready to tackle future concerns and challenges. The beautiful thing about this is that once someone becomes educated, they can then educate others around them. These words and ideas can then travel long distances to many ears and minds, and the opportunities for civil engagement become limitless.
Blake Hedges is a Junior at Michigan State University studying Environmental Studies and Sustainability and Professional Writing. He was the summer 2019 Environmental Education Intern at the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary.
Current Michigan State University students can apply for an internship today at: https://www.kbs.msu.edu/education/undergraduate-program/internships/.