Alexandra Kasdin, 2014, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
This summer, I worked as an environmental education teaching assistant in Northern Kenya, in areas ravaged by overgrazing and drought. Our goal was to educate Kenyan primary school students about the natural world and to show them that they can transform their landscape through simple environmental stewardship. We created interactive lessons that illustrated concepts such as biodiversity, habitats, the water cycle, and adaptation. I created new lesson plans for the environmental education program and taught the students for an hour every weekday at five different primary schools. Through this experience, I came to the conclusion that environmental education is key to any conservation effort. Environmental education at the most elementary level is the starting point for this understanding. My time in Africa confirmed that I enjoy working with people and researching topics that involve people, such as how humans and the environment interact and affect one another. For example, I discovered I might enjoy studying eco-tourism, an example of the crossover between humans and the environment. After my experiences in Kenya and realizations about the importance of environmental education, I can also see myself spearheading environmental education efforts in the future.