by Adeline Bellesheim, Lloyd Center for the Environment Educator/Naturalist
As I pull up to the Lloyd Center for the Environment, my heart is jumping into my throat. The first day at a new job is never an easy task. After three years of working as a Field Biologist, this will be my first stint as a professional educator. What will my responsibilities be? Who will I be shadowing to learn this new role? How will I keep the children safe? Wait… what does poison ivy look like again? My mind is racing as I approach my new boss, Liz.
“Can you go around the patio and pick up the little straw wrappers on the ground? The kids drop them when they drink their juice boxes at lunch.” she calls to me from across the gravel road. I have just been given my first assignment as an educator. My hands are still shaking as I fill them with the tiny plastic littered throughout the lawn. I head into the classroom to rid myself of straw wrappers, tin foil, and other trash treasures that I found outside.
I have been in this classroom once before, but this will be my first time seeing it in the full swing of summer programs. Catfish, turtles, salamanders, and many other critters fill the tanks with life. Interns wearing Lloyd Center t-shirts of all different colors are buzzing around feeding worms and blueberries to the animals. Smiles and laughter from my newest college-aged co-workers let me know that I am going to like it here.
The next six weeks at the Lloyd Center go by in a flash of screams filled with joy and the smell of bug spray. Each day is filled with hikes, fishing at the estuary, animal encounters, and nature-themed crafts. I find myself saying things such as “line up behind me” and “please don’t put that in your mouth”. I have officially learned the language of an educator.
As the days become shorter and the leaves begin to change, the Lloyd Center becomes just a little bit quieter. The Osprey have begun their trip to South America. The crabs start to crawl out to warmer waters. A large, white tent is put up over the patio where I completed my first clean-up task.
Although the summer is over, the educators are still in action at the Lloyd Center for the Environment. We are gearing up for our famous fall programs and the classes of visitors ready to learn. The Coastal Field Studies will fill the property with lessons on the maritime forest and animal adaptations. The staff will hop in the van and adventure out to nearby schools to teach the Feathery Focus program and much more. Weekends will be filled with events such as the Fall Tree Walk, Creepy Critters Night Hike, Turkey Trot, and Nature Discoveries.
The staff here wear many different hats as we move through the seasons. When we are not teaching, we take on a variety of random tasks to help maintain our beautiful property. We search for mussels and oysters to sustain the life in our touch tank. The trails must be trimmed in order to keep all of the visitors safe. We even take our resident Eastern Screech Owl, Koko, on walks to make sure she is happy and healthy. If I have learned one thing, it’s that there is never a dull moment working as an educator at the Lloyd Center for the Environment!