~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS6 student Ryan Clark. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s 17 learning goals. Ryan is from San Jose, Costa Rica where he attends Anglo American High School.~
Leaving Conserve School is going to be hard. Five months is more than enough time to fall in love with a place, a community and a school. It was enough time to grow, to learn, and to have fun. The problem with time is that it runs out. However, it’s not always a bad thing. The end of our time at Conserve School is only a chance to show what we’ve gained from our time on campus, and what we are capable of going forth to do.
At the beginning of the semester I wrote down a few simple goals. These included making new friends, becoming a better outdoorsman, integrating environmental stewardship to my future career, and above all just enjoying the semester. I’m glad to say I accomplished all these goals and more. I now have many new friends (staff, teachers, and students alike), all of which I trust and care about. I have become a better outdoorsman in the only way one can become a better outdoorsman, by spending lots of time in the woods. I have a deeper understanding of ecosystems and how to care for them, plus I have discovered several very attractive career paths that deal with the environment on a daily basis. I would say that’s a 100% accomplishment rate. The completion of every one of those goals has made me grow as a person and as an environmentalist.
While I was pursuing my goals I definitely encountered some obstacles, none that could impede me from reaching my goals, but still present. In trying to make friends I found that time was the biggest limiting factor. When I was trying to become a better outdoorsman, I hit a hard wall; I had a very interesting and challenging solo experience, to say the least. And choosing a career is still challenging for me, I have narrowed it down, but I still have some tough decisions ahead. All these challenges are minor; they’re just there to wake you up, to get you out of a routine. A strong mind, a strong heart, and a strong community will always help you through them. That is a lesson I can attribute to Conserve School, along with many more.
Throughout the semester I kept my sights on my goals. I did add to them though. I chose to make life-long friends. I chose to expand my skills in winter sports, which I didn’t have previously. I chose to find a career that would keep me in the outdoors for most of the workday, which inherently means a healthier way of life. I like to think that I made my goals better, more complete. Success is the most appropriate word for the feeling I have as I tell you about this. If there is certainty in life, than I am certain that CS6 was a success.
I’m moving forward in life, on to college, a job, and a legacy. Much of what I am about to do has been highly influenced by Conserve School. I have decided on a short term goal, a small one. When I get home I would like to reduce my store bought meat intake. Learning that the meat industry produces 18% of greenhouse gases, I have decided to eat mostly meat that I hunt or catch myself. It will be healthier, and it is an excuse to get out in the back country more often. This is one of the goals that will help make my life more sustainable. Another one of my goals is to do more volunteering in my area, and around the country. It is a good source of experience, social connections, and a good use of time. It’s my way of giving back to the community. The last goal I’ve decided on for now is to get more people involved in outdoor activities, either through my job, organizations, or starting my own events. My thinking on this one is that if I introduce other people to this love of mine, I will inspire them to take care of it. This will not only make my life more sustainable, but theirs also. I will be spreading the word.
Internships and college programs are going to be a big part of my immediate future, as I am hoping that they will help me find a career I will love. Most likely they will be related to engineering or environmental sciences, my preferences at the moment. Not only am I going to be more active searching for opportunities, but I will also be more active within my immediate area and nationally to take action in protecting our wilderness resources. It will be my grain of sand in the world’s struggle to be friendlier to our environment. I hope to accomplish great things in these areas for myself, and for the rest of humanity.
My love for the outdoors doesn’t need to be kept alive, I was born with it, and I am sure I will die with it too. I will continue to enjoy my usual camping trips, hopefully longer and farther away from civilization. I will fish as long as I am able to. I might even just sit on a stump in my backyard and truly listen. Really any excuse to be outside is a valid excuse in my book, so in all likelihood I will be enjoying a wide array of outdoor activities. Surely a list of all of them is too long to mention. I hope to try my hand at hunting, but not just sit in a tree stand. I will look forward to becoming good at tracking, knowing habitats and what to look for when searching for game. I don’t know what other skills I will try to acquire, but I can safely say that my passion for exploration will take me to places I can’t thought of, of course always in the backcountry. I might even try to through hike the AT, or SCUBA dive off of Cocos Island. I am always looking forward to the next adventure.
~Ryan Clark, Conserve School Semester 6
More photos from Ryan’s semester at Conserve School.
Visit the Conserve School website to learn more about this unique semester school in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.