Posted by: Stefan Anderson | March 3, 2014

Legislators and Leadership



~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS8 student Jacob Jung. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Jacob is from Green Bay, Wisconsin where he is a homeschooler.~

Legislators and Leadership

Conserve School Learning Goal: After completing a semester at Conserve School, a student demonstrates improved skills in the principles and practices of teamwork and leadership.

Eporfolio Wilderness SignThe doors open, and the President enters flanked by two, surprisingly bearded Secret Service Agents. The Congress men and women who fill the room stand. Excitement over the new piece of legislation can be felt in every breath and nervous glance. At the podium, the President takes up a pen, puts it to the bill before her, and signs into legal protection upwards of ten million acres of wilderness. The surrounding legislators, me included, give a roar of approval. After spending two class periods brainstorming, writing and researching, we had just passed a new and revised Wilderness Act (albeit, in our mock government).

This scene took place roughly two week ago in my combined English and History class. I, being very interested in politics, was ecstatic at the idea of producing and voting on a bill of our own. After being split up into groups and the task assigned, the process of creating our own versions of the 1964 Wilderness Act began.

Temp JungI was very confident that I could lead my team in the creation of a bill, worthy of my class’s approval. This belief began to readily show, in some not so nice ways. I started to dominate my group’s discussion of the project. In my usual arrogant and selfish way, I undertook this project with the presumption that I knew what I was doing, and that my ideas, words and phrases were first-rate. After about five minutes of discussion, I saw my selfish persistence begin to show on the faces of my colleagues. After another few minutes, and a train of fantastic observations by my teammates, I was beginning to see my blunder and its underlying principles.

Until this point, I had relied on myself. I thought that leadership meant I would be the provider of all the answers, that I would be the smartest and the most outspoken. It didn’t occur to me that there was more to being a leader than being the best. Maybe, just maybe, a good leader isn’t always the best. Maybe, just maybe, a good leader brings out the best, not in himself, but in the people around him. This revelation has become even more transparent to me as I peruse the book Endurance for History class. The leader of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, Ernest Shackleton wasn’t the strongest of his men. He wasn’t the brightest either. But he was phenomenal at supporting, delegating and serving his men.

One of Conserve School’s goals is to better a student understanding of leadership principles. Although I think this instance was inadvertent, Conserve has so far, fulfilled this goal in me. As I continue to learn and gain from my experiences here at Conserve, I hope to continue to better my understanding of leadership, and apply it not only to my time here, but also to wherever the rest of my life takes me!

“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” – Lao Tzu

Jake Jung, Conserve School Semester 8

More photos from the combined English/History class creation of the Wilderness Act activity.

Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.



  1. Great lesson to learn, Jake! As always, we are proud of you!

  2. Jake – The real measuring stick of being a leader is what you discovered rather quickly. Once you understand your team, you get the most out of each person and weave their strengths in the overall task. The best leaders recognize their teams and don’t take the credit themselves…when that happens, your team will “run through walls for you”….nice job!

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