by Shannon Ewell, Lloyd Center Educator/Naturalist
As I sit at my desk and look out between the trees to the Slocum River on this sunny, non-humid, perfect summer day – I wonder how I got to be so lucky. This year I accepted a position as an educator/naturalist here at the Lloyd Center, and have to say I could not be happier. I met Amanda and Liz, both seasoned educators, while substituting at DeMello and Quinn Elementary schools. I eagerly assisted in the lessons, and mentioned my background in veterinary technology. I had just made the decision to leave the veterinary community after 24 years and was looking forward to my next career adventure. After participating in a Feathery Focus lesson with Liz, I sent her my resume and was delighted with the possibility of joining the Lloyd Center education staff.
I excitedly joined the education team in January, and can say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time. I jumped right in and was happy to observe, then teach, the programs offered to our local school districts. It was a joy to see children amazed and delighted with native species the Lloyd Center education staff shared with them. Many of our students do not realize these animals/creatures are right in our local habitats and it NEVER gets old to see a student light up with happiness to learn about subjects that they can access right in their own communities. From in-school programs shifting to Lloyd Center field trips it was an amazing start to the summer.
As the year progressed, I was approached with running a week-long summer program. The topic would be marine biology, and I would have 13 students ranging from 9-12 years old. This sounded quite exciting to me! And although slightly intimidated about “running the show”, I was honored to be asked to lead a program. I began to collect information and start my research for this week-long endeavor. I chatted with the education staff who were all so helpful & supportive with do’s and don’t’s, seeing this was my first solo teaching adventure.
As August 7th approached, I was excited and a bit nervous. I was fortunate to have Lillian assisting, an incredible UMASS Dartmouth intern, and my nerves eased as I could see we had some great ideas to share and educate our students. Lillian was such an incredible asset to the marine biology program. She was eager, happy, and just as excited as myself for our special week. She contributed so much to our program and is fabulous with the kids, which added to our fantastic week.
Our week included daily trips to the estuary, a field trip to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, and daily experiments and activities to tie into our lessons. From fish-printing to shark buoyancy experiments, to setting up our own saltwater tank, each day was a joy! We created a group marine biology field guide for our final project, with each student picking a marine animal or bird. I was so impressed with all the information the students collected, as well as their excitement to share the guides with their families at the end of our camp. Each student went home with their own copy, and we now have 13 different fact sheets on marine species.
My experiences thus far at the Lloyd Center have been nothing short of wonderful. Dartmouth is my home, I grew up here, I went to school here, and returned to raise my children in this incredible seaside community. I have always walked the Lloyd Center trails and I’m thrilled to share this space with my son, daughter, and husband. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be on staff at such an important organization. I’m quite content and beyond happy to have joined such an incredible, supportive, and intelligent group of humans! I look forward to many more years here at the Lloyd Center!