By Alex Wilson
A low lying fog obscures passing buildings and trees as I turn onto Farm Loop Rd. in Palmer, Alaska. I’m heading into one of my first mornings as an assistant instructor at Louise’s Farm School (now F.I.E.L.D. School). After a few weeks into the MSOEE program, I’m really starting to enjoy this unique mix of learning, application, and reflection. It’s apparent that I have made a good choice in moving my life to Alaska!
My first two and a half years living in Alaska consisted of completing my work in the MSOEE program, teaching homeschool supplement classes for Farm School, and enjoying the outdoors. Living on the Kellogg campus for a year was one of the best experiences of my life (not lying! It was amazing). The campus is one of the main reasons I chose to attend APU. It is beautiful, spacious and quiet. Classes are held in a big old farm house that has its own unique charm. It has been interesting to watch it slowly evolve through the last five cohorts, each having its own vision of how to optimize the window-filled, fire-place-bordered, library-lined space. If you want to stay on campus to study and complete assignments there is a small computer lab and ample outdoor space to find some seclusion if needed. You can walk through, ski over, bike past, run around, sled down, and explore fields, streams, hills, forests and wetlands throughout the 700 acres of mostly undeveloped land.
I did all of these all while learning about key aspects of becoming an effective outdoor and environmental educator. From learning new teaching methods to participating in the design of curriculum and programs, I have used the skills I learned in the program professionally and even now in my role as a mom! Some of my favorite people are those who I met in the program. We’ve seen each other get married, have children, travel far and wide and secure great jobs.
As with many things in life, the MSOEE program is what you make of it. I try to take advantage of opportunities that come my way and make the best of them. Teaching for Farm School was one of those opportunities. Through the support and guidance of Megan (Rock) and Steve (Rubinstein) I was able to develop fun curriculum and lesson plans that I keep in a portfolio of my work. I have used the lessons for other programs and they continue to evolve as I use them in new places and with new students. Oh! The students! Those kids are pretty cool. I am certain I learned much more from them (and still do!) than they learned from me. They can ski, identify plants and birds, read the clouds, harvest potatoes, gather eggs and search for macro invertebrates in a stream—and if they can’t you can teach them (or even better, they can teach each other)! Alaska Tag is now one of my favorite games. Don’t know it? I know I few kids who would happily teach you.
It’s hard to believe that it will be five years since I started my classes on the farm, but the time I spent there learning, teaching and exploring was some of the most formative in my life. What a wonderful place!