Working with North Creek Forest this winter has helped me understand and lift up others to grow through place based learning. Being located in an urban forest, it can be easy to be preoccupied with the current surrounding neighborhoods and the modern lives of humans. Taking time in the forest with work parties and learning alongside school groups has helped enrich how I view environmental education and interact with nature around me.
Over my spring break I realized how much I have learned about my local environments and how different ecosystems are when you travel. Last week I visited coastal southern California to visit family in Ventura, CA. Going on jogs alongside the beach I began asking myself questions similar to things I have been learning at North Creek. “What plants are invasive? Why is the land shaped the way it is? What is the watershed like of the region?” These were questions that I previously was not giving as much thought to before my internship, and now with being in that mindset in the North Creek Forest and surrounding wetlands, my brain is being pushed to seek out these answers.
This curiosity and desire for understanding is something I see as beautiful and powerful, especially if it can be encouraged in all types of individuals. When I think of my years throughout school and what inspired me, it was hands on immersive experiences that helped me appreciate the wonder of our planet and the natural processes that were a part of that. I’m happy to be assisting with Friends of North Creek Forest and encouraging curiosity and problem solving through place based learning.