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05/07/2012

Experiencing the Environmental World in 134 Days

Never before did I believe it was possible to wake up any time before 7:00am and truly be excited for the day. But working as an intern for the Mission Outdoors program at the Sierra Club has taught me otherwise.

I clearly remember the first week of my internship: a steering committee meeting, a rally at the Capitol, and acting like a sponge, constantly soaking up information. When I think back to January, I think of how much I’ve learned since then. It became apparent to me early on that environmental education and getting people (especially kids) outdoors is something I am passionate about.

After confirming my position at the Sierra Club, my incredible supervisor, Jackie Ostfeld (who is a tireless champion for getting kids outdoors), recommended reading Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. Reading this book opened my eyes to the magnitude of the problem of kids and their disconnection to nature. It was essentially the jumpstart I needed before coming to D.C. and facing this issue head on.

Through involvement with Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK), I have witnessed much inspirational, hard work to get kids outdoors. Through the coalition I have learned about great examples of outdoor education, everything that can result from a lack of outdoor activity, and have seen steps taken in the right direction to push these efforts that need to be pushed. Who knew that making mud pies in the backyard after it rained or going to the park with my parents could be part of something so beneficial?

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During my internship I also got the chance to help organize Mission Outdoors’ kickoff event for military kids and families: the Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors. Thanks in part to my awesome colleague Stacy Bare and his moving stories, I was able to better understand how military children are indeed the nation’s youngest heroes. Seeing their joyful faces on the day of the event was a reflection of how much they need and deserve to enjoy the land their families protect.

Approaching the day to leave is nothing other than saddening. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and am honored to have experienced my first, real environmental advocacy work with the wonderful people at the Sierra Club. Getting to see people so driven about their work is truly inspiring for a college student soon to be thrown into the workforce world. I can only hope to cross paths with them again in the future, as I have been inspired to continue to feed my interest in environmental work.

Thank you, Sierra Club!

-- by Sally McGuire, Mission Outdoors Intern


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