By Shadow Silvers
Here I am with Brian Janson, a graduate student at APU. I have decided to interview him to get a feel for the program he is currently attending, the Master of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education program, so that we can gain a better understanding of the program and the students attending said program. Enjoy part two of three interviews with students graduating in April of 2016.
1. What program are you currently enrolled in at APU?
Master of Science in Outdoor and Environmental Education(MSOEE)
2. Tell us about your current thesis project, what it is about and what are you doing to fulfill the requirements for the thesis?
My thesis project is to evaluate Trailside Discovery Camp in Anchorage to see how its summer programming affects its students’ emotional connection to nature. I spent last summer handing out surveys to Trailside’s students and am currently analyzing the results of those surveys to see what types of conclusions can be drawn.
3. How has FIELD school fit into your current program?
I am using FIELD school as one of my practicum credits towards my MSOEE degree. I have worked in the EE field for years, but never at a place quite like FIELD school. Its curriculum and design is very different than camps, parks, and nature centers I have worked at in the park. I appreciate how FIELD school allows me to work with the same group of kids week after week to get to know them and watch them grow.
4. Could you describe your duties as a FIELD school teacher?
I work as an assistant instructor for the Eagles kids. This semester we were learning about Alaska homesteading—the history behind it and the knowledge and skills needed to be a homesteader. As an assistant I had to help craft the lesson plans to ensure that everything we did fit the goals of the overall curriculum as well as make sure that all the kids were on task at all time
5. How long will it have taken you to complete this program once you graduate in April?
I started my graduate degree back in 2011 by earning a 10-credit certificate in environmental education from Hamline University in Minnesota. I then transferred here to APU in the winter of 2013 and have worked to complete my degree ever since.
6. How does this program fit into your overall career goals?
I have worked in environmental education field in various capacities since 2007, but I have never been totally satisfied with my efforts. Environmental education is more than just a job to me; it is a passion. I wanted to get better, to know that I was being the best educator I could be. I hope to use the knowledge and skills that I have learned through APU to become a leader in the field.
7. What do you dislike most about the MSOEE program?
The drive out to Palmer. I happen to live less than a mile from APU’s Anchorage campus, but yet I still have to drive a solid hour to get to class out on the farm.
8. What do you think your greatest strengths are as a student?
The willingness and ability to spend many, many hours sitting in front of a computer screen in the library doing research and writing papers.
9. What new skills have you learned over the past year?
I have gained so many skills through the process of working on my thesis: how to write a research proposal; how to send out and collect surveys (it is more complicated than I thought it would be); how to mathematically analyze all the numbers from the surveys to end up with usable and understandable data… I have also learned the patience and resiliency to continue on when things don’t turn out as perfectly as I had hoped.