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.