Since 2001, Wildsight environmental education programs have reached over 70,000 students. These programs help to build a more sustainable future for all, inspiring the students of today to become the stewards of tomorrow.
This month we’d like to introduce you to one the incredible educators who bring our programs to life: Melissa Flint. Melissa hails from the Creston Valley and has been an educator with Wildsight for four years. Melissa teaches our Beyond Recycling, Classroom with Outdoors, Winter Wonder and Know your Watershed programs.
Wildsight: Why did you become an environmental educator?
Melissa: I have always been interested in the connection between people and earth, from growing up hiking, climbing trees and playing outside. I also had several close friends and mentors nudge me in the direction of education—maybe in part from too much unsolicited botany conversation on hikes? Now that I have been on this path for a few years I find inspiration from many teachers, mentors, artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and community organizers. One of my inspirations comes from Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Network, who says ‘I give my every waking moment to the creation of a new narrative, one rooted in possibility, imagination, care, connection and action.’ As an environmental educator I hope to bring a different narrative to the conversation, one that empowers us to live fully connected lives within our communities.
WS: What is the best part about facilitating Wildsight education programs?
M: When I go into a classroom and the students instantly light up because I have taught them before with a Wildsight program and they already know that the day is going to be full of exploration, possibility and games.
WS: What are you noticing about student engagement in environmental issues and students’ motivation to take action?
M: Everyone is motivated to act in different ways. For some, it’s for their community, for others because they love animals, for others to protect the special places where they live and play. Students all feel deeply about different topics. William B. Yeats says that ‘education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.’ I am there to help find that spark in the students. In general, I would say that students find the most interest in projects in which they can see quick results and that contain authentic tasks that make a difference in their individual lives, schools or communities.
WS: If Wildsight was not limited to funding constraints, what projects would you want to take on with your students?
M: Michael Becker, who is an inspirational middle school teacher in Hood River Oregon, asks his students ‘Why is this place better because you were here today?’ I think I would start with that question and see where it leads us.
WS: What a great question to leave us with. Thank you Melissa—keep up the great work!
As part of our Beyond Recycling program, Melissa led students at Yaqan Nukiy School in Creston in an eco-challenge to reduce one-time-use plastics. Their solution? Homemade beeswax wrap. Twenty students made beeswax using a variety of ingredients, including local beeswax and sap collected from fir trees in their school yard.
Have you ever tried to make your own beeswax wrap? How are you reducing one time use plastics? If you’re curious about how to make your own beeswax wrap, here is a recipe you can try at home.