Earth Notes: Let me introduce myself

Mary Jewett

Mary Jewett

By Mary Jewett
Guest Writer
In 2001, I was a senior at Lake Region High School applying for college. Fortunately for me, I knew which track I wanted to be on. Unlike some of my peers, I had discovered what I loved early on and was given opportunities to pursue my passions.
When I was in sixth grade, an environmental educator named Roberta Hill came into my school to teach us about water quality and our natural resources. She worked for the Lakes Environmental Association and opened my eyes to the subject of environmental science.
In high school, I became part of an experimental program called EcoLab, which focused on learning and teaching core subjects through a scientific lens. Hancock Lumber donated a section of forest beside the school to use as our outdoor classroom and our teachers were the most enthusiastic I had ever met. Unfortunately, the program only lasted one year, but in that time I formed valuable relationships with my fellow students and teachers, some of whom I remain close to today.
After EcoLab disbanded, there were not many environmental options left at Lake Region. The rest of my time in high school was spent in the classroom of the most influential teacher I have ever had — K Bolduc. Her enthusiasm for environmental issues and education knew no bounds. She organized epic field trips for us to Florida and the Caribbean. She brought in guest speakers to teach us about important topics. One speaker was Bob Dunning, who showed us how nuclear power works and how it could get us into trouble. My senior year rounded out with an Advanced Placement Environmental Science course and a memorable trip to California to study the redwoods. The summer after I graduated found me working two jobs and volunteering at LEA as an assistant with the water-testing program.
I’m going to bring you back to those college applications. All of them included arduous essay questions about my strengths and weaknesses, but one question stood out. On the application for Unity College, they asked me what I thought the “most important environmental issue is today.” With all the information I had received from my education, I could have made an easy argument for water pollution, air pollution, population or fossil fuels. But then I thought about the most important thing I had gained in school: an education. I thought about all the people in the world, even in my town, who didn’t have the basic environmental education I had just received. And I thought that maybe if everyone had the education I had, they would make an effort to stop air pollution, water pollution and overpopulation. They would recycle, conserve energy and teach their children the same.
I told Unity that the biggest issue in the world today is education, or lack thereof. I decided to study Ecology at Unity to help me understand the way the world works and how we are all connected. I could have taken Environmental Education, but I wanted to figure out the world before teaching others about it.
I’m still figuring out the world and my current position of teacher/naturalist at LEA is helping me to grow that understanding. Coming around full circle from student to teacher at LEA has been an amazing experience. I remember the passion and knowledge of my own LEA instructor and that has helped me to understand what needs to be done to be an unforgettable educator.
I have developed strong opinions about many topics in my roles of student, citizen and educator. This is the intro to my Earth Notes adventure. I look forward to giving you my two cents on some of those topics and issues.

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