I have several goals for my semester here at Conserve. First, I want to get outside as much as I can, even on the coldest days. Second, I want to learn how to cross country ski and practice until I’m really good at it. Third, I want to come away with lots of new friends. Most importantly, I want to learn what I can do to help make the world a better place—in a time when the outlook for the natural world often looks so bleak, I want to know how I can help.
I wrote these words over three months ago, when I was less than a week into my Conserve experience. Fourteen weeks on, I can happily look back and say that I have accomplished all four of my goals and more. I learned how to cross country ski. I spent nearly every bit of my free time outside, no matter what the weather. I have made great friends. Finally, I come away from this experience with an environmental education that will allow me to get out there and make the world a better place.
Cross-country skiing proved to be much easier to master than I thought it would be—after just a few days of practice, I felt like I had it down pretty well.
Every moment of time that I could spare, I was outside, whether alone or with others. Being able to be out there, experiencing Lowenwood in all of its beauty, made me feel truly at home. Even early on I was impressed by the beauty of the land here and had already gained a deep sense of place, as can be seen in this entry about a sunset on the Black Trail:
The shadows thrown across the snow, the sun blazing through the white pines and cedars on one side of the trail, casting a golden light on the spruces and birches on the other. The utterly calm, windless expanse of snow, the stunted trees, the bog. The hare and coyote tracks in the otherwise untouched snow. These all made this experience stand out for me. Most memorable of all, though, was the connection I had gained to the landscape and the environment here at Lowenwood, and then realizing that it would be here, at this magnificent place, that I will be spending another thirteen weeks.
This semester, I have met many amazing people, students and staff members alike. Back home, there is no one like me, and especially no one who cares about what I care about. The opportunity to spend a semester with other people my age that care about the environment as much as I do has been a priceless experience for me. The deep connections that I’ve made with my fellow students here have meant more to me than anyone, even I, could have ever imagined. These are friendships that I will cherish forever.
My educational experience here has been unbelievable. The immersive and interdisciplinary nature of the classes has enabled me to learn more this semester than I had in all of my previous years of going to public school. And all of this while having a great time! From Jeff’s creative projects to Michael’s incredible experiential teaching style, from Andy’s amusing yet informative science classes to Nancy’s amazing Earth Art course, and everything in between, I have immensely enjoyed the classes here.
My experience at Conserve School will definitely have an enormous positive influence on my life. I will carry this experience through the rest of high school and college and even past that, for no matter where I go, no matter what I end up in life, the vast amount of knowledge that I have gained from attending Conserve School will apply in one way or another. I will use the environmental education that I have received here to go out and make the world a better place. I now know how I can help “in a time when the outlook for the natural world often looks so bleak,” and that means a lot to me. Equally important to me is the knowledge that there are other people like me, who care about the environment as much as I do. At times when I’m feeling hopeless or discouraged, all I’ll need to do will be to think of all of my friends from CS8, and know that I’m not alone. Such consolation, for me, is extremely valuable.
My experience this semester truly cannot be done justice with words. Thank you, Conserve School, for such an unforgettable, uplifting, life-changing experience. Thank you, Conserve School, for the best sixteen weeks of my life.