MCLA

Outdoor Education

02/08/2012

Christine Amor '11 of North Andover, Mass., took her degree in environmental studies to Alaska. She's working with Americorp in Juneau since September, where she teaches third and fifth graders about the environment.

Amor was certified as an early childhood educator and was ready to get her Bachelor of Science degree when she suddenly realized she wanted to find a "less traditional way" to work with children. That's when she turned her attention to environmental studies.

"I love hands-on education and experiential learning. I am also very interested in local environmental outreach and sustainable food systems. I was, and still am searching for a way to link my environmental interests with early childhood education," Amor explained.

"The most amazing thing about the environmental studies program at MCLA is that you are spending a lot of time outside, learning through doing. I am not the kind of person to sit around and learn which is why I loved the laboratory time spent at MCLA," she said. "I also really enjoyed the small community of folks around all the time, people who were also passionate about sustainability and outdoor adventure."

Amor chose to volunteer with Americorp because she wanted to give of her time for the things she believes in. She chose Alaska because it is one of the most untouched areas she could think of in the United States.  There, she works for a non-profit nature education organization, where she is an assistant naturalist.

"We cover topics ranging from photosynthesis and soil science, to winter tracking, outdoor safety and edible plants in southeast Alaska," she said. "The best part is that I take my own groups of kids out hiking and exploring, but also have the chance to work with another naturalist who teaches through music. I have learned a number of environmental education songs, and dances of course, which are the goofiest and greatest modes of teaching I have ever used. I am also working with Slow Foods Juneau, working to connect local people with their food and their environments."

While at MCLA, Amor never imagined that she would use sign language, song and dance to teach about growing food and the importance of plants in our lives. When her volunteerism with Americorp ends in July, she plans to continue to work with children in a hands-on way, "either in garden or farm-based settings or with environmental education organizations," Amor said. "Ideally, I will find a career that somehow combines farm-based education and nature education."

But before that, she'd like to move back to the New England area for a job or research opportunity. "To expand my knowledge and work experience in those fields, I will need a few more years experimenting," Amor said. 

At MCLA, Amor enjoyed the area's natural, outdoor beauty while she earned her degree.

What was the best thing about her MCLA experience?

"The people I met at MCLA were all amazing, professors, local people and students. Thanks to professors Dan Shustack and Elena Traister, my environmental education was totally hands-on and engaging, something that I really needed."