~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS6 student Erin Zehr. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Erin is from Fort Wayne, Indiana where she attends Carroll High School.~
The original title of this post was final thoughts, but I realized that just won’t do. These are not final thoughts, this is just the beginning. This is not goodbye, its see you soon. At Conserve, I have not just acquired a list of new skills; I have acquired a new perspective and hope for my future. The first night at Conserve, we all attended an opening fire and shared our goal, which I later wrote in my first blog post. I shared…
“My goal is to learn more about myself, the environment, and how to better protect it”.
I do not know everything there is to know about the environment, or protecting it, for I have learned it is a far more complex issue than I ever imagined. However, I feel as if I have taken a large step down the road of understanding our Earth. More importantly, I have gained the passion and love to keep traveling down that path for the rest of my life. Throughout this experience, I have discovered that you never stop learning and evolving, and I would not change that for anything. It is through this constant evolution that we allow ourselves to be open receptacles for new ideas, challenges, and friendships.
My goal was rather vague and broad, but I feel I accomplished it through new experiences. This semester, I challenged myself to try new things and to be open to other ideas. Looking back, I realize some of my biggest regrets were times when I decided not to accept an invitation to have a new experience, but overall I am proud of all I did attempt. I slept in a quinzhee, I portaged a canoe, I spent 48 hours alone in the woods, I supported many of my beliefs, and challenged and changed even more.
Something I have realized is, when you have an experience as amazing and transformative as Conserve, people often refuse to talk or think of it ending. Whenever anyone remarks on the number of days left, everyone shouts, “Stop talking about it!”, or, “Don’t bring it up”. I understand, it is hard to think of leaving this place. However, what good were these last four months if we do not reflect upon what they have meant, what we have learned, and what they will mean throughout the rest of our lives.
The other evening, Jaimeson and I ( we were later joined by Maren) went on an evening walk around the soccer field. Jaimeson asked me, “What are you looking forward to going home? What makes you sad or worried about leaving/ the future?” I was so thankful he wanted to discuss this. We have to accept we are leaving, but we also have to reflect and analyze. I really enjoyed expressing my opinions and hearing his. Who we are as people has not necessarily changed. However, certain aspects of our character and what we value have been amplified, other aspects have been diminished.I personally feel I am growing more into the person I am meant to be. I have become more confident, more humble about what I don’t know, more willing to speak out for what I believe in, and, most importantly, that you are never too old to be silly and have fun, and never too young to make a difference.
I am so excited for my future, and I have learned of so many opportunities I am interested in exploring. I want to join the YCC (Youth Conservation Corps), “WOOF” it, join the Peace Corps, study abroad and the list goes on and on. Ultimately, no matter where life leads me, I want to continue to be a steward for the Earth. I want to immerse myself in my passion for wilderness, peace, and equality. I want to speak out so all can hear. I want to sit and be rendered speechless by the majesty of my surroundings.
We all have been given a precious gift. Let us reflect upon it, and apply it throughout our lives as we move on. My fellow classmates have become a part of my family, and I am so excited to see how we all change the world, and spread the message of sustainability; because with people as special as all of them, they are bound to do unbelievable things. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “ Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Believe me, I will shed a few tears, but mainly, I will smile, because we have all been inspired and I know our voices will change this world.
~Erin Zehr, Conserve School Semester 6
More photos from Erin’s semester at Conserve School.
Visit the Conserve School website to learn more about this unique semester school in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.