(Learning Through Internship)
Spring 2017: Crow’s Path
Sophie Mazowita, Crow’s Path Spring 2017
When Sophie was very young, she thought she wanted to be a veterinarian. However, she found her true passion the first time she went camping with her dad in Algonquin Park. That trip sparked a lifelong love of nature. She got her bachelor’s degree in environmental sciences at McGill University, and after graduating, started searching for naturalist jobs. However, after a fateful job interview in which she realised she couldn’t identify more than 2 or 3 types of birds in her area, Sophie ended up working in a park visitor center. However, this job had a silver lining. It allowed her to spend free time taking the guided nature walks offered by the park and helping out with studies of the land and it’s wildlife led by the resident park naturalist, soaking up information like a sponge as she went. When she felt that she had gained enough knowledge, Sophie applied for another job as a park naturalist and was hired. Later, she completed her master’s degree as a field naturalist at UVM, and subsequently began working at the Audobon. When her contract ran out there and she was debating how to remain in Vermont as a Canadian citizen, Sophie figured she needed another work visa. This came in the package of a job at Crow’s Path, the outdoor education center on Rock Point in Burlington, Vermont.
Throughout her time working jobs in nature, Sophie has come to value some qualities over others. These include passion and curiosity about the outdoors, comfort in that which is not known, interest in self improvement and sharing discoveries, patience, playfulness, good listening skills, and the ability to care and be responsible for a group. She accredits her successfulness in her field to fostering these skills as well as humility, ability to be flexible and work on her feet, and an overall geeky love of learning. Sophie is aware that naturalist or outdoor education jobs are not all about the money, and that there is much more to be gleaned from working alongside plants, animals, rocks, and the water, but she offered some advice for younger workers. Don’t underestimate the value of your skills, and look for varied opportunities to get experience in many different areas. However, she also recognised and expressed excitement about the fact that, especially in Vermont, the awareness of the importance of nature connection is resurging. She sees potential for a new movement, but she is also stuck on finding the balance between trying to help everyone experience something like Crow’s Path and keeping the small scale, close community feel of the program.
Sophie is extremely passionate about her job. When she was working as a park naturalist in Canada, she realised that it wasn’t enough because the group of people who came to the park in the first place were a self-selecting group. She believes that her job at Crow’s Path is much more effective at getting everyone out in nature, not just the people who were already so inclined. This is especially important because Sophie works with kids, setting them up for a lifetime of stewardship to and respect towards our natural world. She loves that she gets to be part of a collaborative community, and that her organisation is mission driven, so she can always feel like she is making a difference. She appreciates the variety, the energy of the kids, the ability to pursue interest and joy, and the spontaneous magic that she comes across so often in the simplest of things.
- Check in with mentor upon arrival
- Join students in guilds
- Role model responsibility, self care, & empathy
- Be responsive to needs of students
- Safety questions? Ask a Mentor
- Spend time outside
- Glean knowledge about local flora & fauna
- Watch how students & mentors interact
- Day hikes & short term backpacking in Spring 2017
- Longer term backpacking & hiking parts of the Long Trail in Summer 2017
- Ireland June 15th – July 5th
- Kamana One naturalist training program
- Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki in Fall 2017