As individuals, we go through chapters in our lives believing that we have conquered life and feel as if nothing could ever go wrong for us. Conversely, we will all share experiences of disorientation throughout our time here on earth. We live in a society that thrives on focusing on the future, and assuring that people have a plan for their next move in life. Often times, young people, like myself, feel this as burden and frequently don’t have an answer. It’s easy to slip into this mindset and disregard the existing moment. I have now spent nearly two summers as a Nature Education intern at Audubon, and have been reminded to live more in the present rather than fixating so much on the future. Trusting this philosophy, my time at Audubon has directed towards new goals without purposefully thinking about what’s ahead of me.
Prior to my time at Audubon, I had ambitions of working in the field of Environmental Science, but I have since found my true passion; education. Many have asked, “Why would you want to teach?” My answer is simple; to inspire and motivate young individuals. What we do at the Audubon Community Nature Center is exactly that, in that we strive to build connections between people and nature through various programs designed to inspire and educate people of all ages. As an individual that grew up coming to Audubon, and being an active participant in the local school programs as a student, I have found that this organization does more than just educate students about nature-related topics. Audubon sparks curiosity – not just from the students, but from volunteers and staff members’ perspective too – and that’s what makes our field so unique. In my short twenty-one years, nothing has ever been more rewarding than observing a student get excited and passionate about a subject that they may have not been interested in when they woke up that morning.
Last Spring, I shared an experience with a group of elementary students that will stick with me forever. It was evident upon their arrival that they were not very familiar with nature, as they were from a widely urban area. When I asked them what types of things they expected to see on their Discovery Walk, I received answers like, “Dinosaurs, monkeys, tigers and elephants.” On most occasions, I may have looked at this as a signal it wasn’t going to be an easy walk, but I decided to take the opposite approach and accept the challenge. Ultimately, it ended up as one of the best experiences I have ever had working with children. With my passion to enthuse them, they were able to make dozens of discoveries that day, completely on their own. These young students were very receptive of information, and many of them mentioned they were excited to go home and tell their parents what an awesome time they had in their two hours at Audubon. It was apparent that in the relatively short time they spent here, we made a positive impact on their lives, and that’s what we try to achieve, each and every day.
I have been fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to work in an organization like Audubon that has inspired me to the point of resetting my goals in life. The staff, volunteers, interns and visitors here go above and beyond to improve the well-being of one another. Sometimes all we need is just a humbling reminder to just take a deep breath, slow down, and live right now. As much as the future matters, without the present, there is no future; and my time working here has reminded me of that. While the field of science will forever hold a place in my heart, Audubon Community Nature Center has helped me determine that I would like to continue to educate and inspire people forever. Audubon truly changes lives.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk as is Liberty, the Bald Eagle. The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it opens at 1 p.m. More information is online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.
David is a Nature Education intern at Audubon.