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Holly With 5th Graders Looking For Macro Invertebrates.

In Their Own Words: Alumni Update — Holly Clark

Post Series: In Their Own Words -- Alumni Updates

Feel inspired by our engaged alumni and learn how significant bus Resource Experiences still impact them years after the fact!

Holly Clark — Changed to the Core

This May it will be fourteen years since I completed my educational journey with the Audubon Expedition Institute (progenitor to EEI). It goes without saying I would not be who I am today without the life affirming experiences I had during my two years traveling on the bus. My experiences didn’t just make me a better educator they created a better citizen of the planet. I gained a depth of spirit and purpose that sustains me still. I know nothing can take from me those moments of deep ecological connection that were unleashed as I looked upon pine trees a few feet tall that had been growing for decades in the harsh tundra, or stepped upon the day old lava flow that sent glowing cracks from my feet as the heat of the new earth engulfed me. Experiences such as these change you to the core.

Holly with 5th graders looking for macro invertebrates.

Holly with 5th graders looking for macro invertebrates.

After graduating I took a job at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, in Philadelphia, as a Children’s Educator. I never thought I’d end up in a museum setting, but I’ve learned first-hand how museums can be an amazing venue to approach learning. The program I work in provides free year-long science instruction to neighborhood public elementary schools. Science education is often slighted in the elementary classroom as the focus is mainly Math and Reading. Public schools in Philadelphia, as in many urban systems, are grossly underfunded and resources to teach hands-on science, provide teacher training, and incorporate field trip experiences are simply not a priority.

Holly with busmate Mark, in Colorado.

Holly with busmate in Colorado.

A defining resource experience during my time on the bus happened my first semester in the Southern Rockies. I can picture the sheared earth of the mining operation in front of me as we stood on the edge of an ever deepening hole. They were mining for molybdenum, a lightweight metal. I remember feeling upset, as we had been learning about the environmental degradation that accompanies mining. I also remember, off in the distance, seeing a bike commuter traveling the highway near the mine. The bike commuter is a symbol of environmental dedication and yet many bikes are made of molybdenum. This fracture of right and wrong, good and bad, is exactly what you repeatedly experience through resource visits on the bus. The solutions to our problems are far more complicated than they first seem. Understanding this principle creates a new kind of problem solver – so necessary in order to face our uncertain future on this planet.

I never imagined how deeply I would grow and change from traveling with an experiential learning community. It sounded like it would be fun and different, but it was so much more than I expected or could easily put into words, even today.

Holly was a graduate student on the bus from Fall 2000 to Spring 2002.