A Farewell Lookback by Jasmine Smith-Gillen

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When I began at the Lloyd Center, in September of 2006, I was new to the area and just starting out in this field of work. I grew up outside of Boston and spent summer vacations on Cape Cod, yet like many Massachusetts residents, I never noticed this region of the state before. I had moved to Westport for a seasonal job, fell in love with the area and decided to stay once it had ended. The south coast is just too lovely to leave. I had worked with some seasonal employees at the Lloyd Center, and applied for an internship.

As all of you reading this know, the Lloyd Center is a special organization at a beautiful location. I immediately felt welcomed and quickly got to work teaching our fall field trips. The busy calendar of educational programs amazed me, as it was clear that the Lloyd Center was an in-demand resource for quality environmental lessons. After an initial internship, I was hired full-time and felt that I had found a home working here.

Rachel Stronach advanced my career. I had been an Educator-Naturalist for a couple years, and with Liz Moniz’ supervision, had developed a solid grasp on teaching our programs and the job requirements. When Rachel rejoined the Lloyd Center staff as Education Director, she encouraged me to expand and grow, eventually into a new role as Education Specialist. In addition to teaching, I wrote grants, developed new curricula, attended collaborative meetings with other organizations and community members, and became the intern supervisor and administrator for the summer programs for older students. Thanks to the mentorship and encouragement of both Rachel and Liz, my pride in my job accomplishments grew, as did my confidence in my abilities. When Rachel ascended to become the Executive Director of the organization, we were all excited to witness her ambition in action.

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With the Capital Campaign well on its way to success in raising our three million-dollar goal, it is an incredible time for the Lloyd Center. The teaching pavilion has already improved our field trips in the maritime forest. The Living Building Challenge™ Welcome Center, under construction now, will create a better greeting space for field trips, and provide a whole new appeal to visitors as it is such an impressively green building.

I have now succeeded at the Lloyd Center for ten years and recently earned a Masters’ degree. It is time for my career to transition onward. I have recently accepted a position elsewhere, and will be leaving the Lloyd Center in early March. This was a tough decision, as I have simply loved working here. My coworkers are the best. Intelligent, strong, hilarious educators – they have amazed and inspired me for years. We have all become very good friends, as a small non-profit is indeed like a family. Each person at the Lloyd Center has influenced me, played an important role in my career and my life. I will miss them all dearly, but I also know that I will see them again – at the next Clambake, attending an outreach event, or walking my dog on the trails.

It is difficult to say what parts of the job I will miss the most. I will always appreciate the view from the third floor of the Visitor Center. I have had the honor of handling and caring for our resident red-shouldered hawk for many years. I have reveled in a peaceful moment to count birds for Cornell citizen science, I have enjoyed leading seal cruises to Cuttyhunk. Best of all, of course, is teaching children. I am so proud to have helped teach over 100,000 students in my time here.

I have had the privilege of teaching at Barney’s Joy – easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It’s been a delight bringing students to the dunes to dig for water, to the saltmarsh to observe osprey, to the beach for shell identification, and watching students delight in catching local fish. Many of these students have never seen the ocean before. That is a special moment I am so pleased to witness. This is why the Education Department works so hard and believes so much in the Lloyd Center. The future of this planet is in our hands, to give to the next generation. We teach so they will be inspired, so they will love nature and care about conserving habitats, saving species, combating climate change. In short, we want to help save the environment, which is why I teach kids to understand why they should, too.