Below is a reflection from community relations director, Julia Hall, on how the weekly summer youth ecology club rejuvenated her work and spirit. Above is a photo of the bird watching and identifying lesson.
TMany times this summer, a young person would run up to me, tug my sleeve, and ask with great excitement: “Is today Ecology Club?”
On Tuesdays, I got to answer: “Yes!”
And, so, Tuesdays became my favorite day of the week.
During the summer of 2018, L’Oreal Hawkes-Williams and I have been running a program, Ecology Club, for the neighborhood kids at Hope House. Our programming included cooking, ecological discovery, and instructive environmental lessons. Visiting experts, musician Michael Feld and Ron with Ferndale Fungi, brought additional wisdom to our Tuesdays at Hope House.
During these days of outdoor educational fun, children brought such color and vivacity to Hope House with their creative perspectives, mindful encounters, funny statements, and genuine desire to learn. They taught us much.
Together, we had loads of fun poster-creating, birdhouse-painting, mushroom-finding, nature-walking, music-making, seed-planting, aquifer-in-a-cup making, and tree-identifying. I was constantly reminded of the reinvigorating and nourishing way to approach the world: with the joy and wonder of a child.
Paint-stained clothes, thriving pumpkin plants, and colorful crayon artwork remind me what it means to just be with others, to explore with unwavering curiosity, and to open eyes to the world with childlike awe.
We will be continuing our work with the youth of the neighborhood with a new VEJ Youth Program that will include after school homework help, healthy snacks, gardening and cooking lessons, and leadership development. To register a young person in this program, please follow this link to our registration form.