Over this past summer, I worked as a counselor-in-training at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture Farm Camp. It was a four week program that entailed one week of training and three weeks of hands-on work with young kids. Stone Barns Center is nonprofit farm which practices and promotes sustainable agriculture. Throughout my time on the farm, I worked with 8 and 9 year olds, helping them develop farming, cooking, and collaboration skills, while advancing my own leadership abilities and farming literacy. We got to spend all day outside, shadowing different employees, from the greenhouse, to the field, to the compost station. Because Stone Barns Center is attached to the renowned Blue Hill Restaurant, we also got to learn from the chefs about their daily routines and what it takes to truly be a farm to table restaurant. The overall experience of working on the farm was wonderful. Because there was a good, even mixture of learning with other high school students my age and teaching our knowledge to younger kids, everyday was exciting. If you love the outdoors, are interested in sustainable agriculture, or love working with children, I highly recommend the counselor-in-training program at the Stone Barns Center upstate.
(Pictured is the main field at the Stone Barns Center and the restaurant Blue Hill which lies in the middle of the farm.)
This year in Stefan Stawnychy’s politics class, we have talked extensively about the election. We have compared the two major party candidates, discussing both their differences and similarities. However, after discovering how difficult it is to not only navigate the two candidates websites, but also to find unbiased information about their policies, Stefan decided to create a website outlining side-by-side, non-partisan comparisons of where the two stand on major issues. In the hopes of making it easier for students throughout the Friends community to stay informed about the candidates and the election, we have designed such a website. Lily Weisberg and I worked specifically on the immigration page. We hope this design informs students about important policy stances from both candidates and makes it easier to see the similarities and differences between the two.
For the second week of spring break, I volunteered at a public elementary school in suburban New Jersey. Throughout the week, I worked with a third grade class of 16 students. I helped the teacher organize her classroom, sorting books and folding bulletin boarders. I taught several lesson such as three-dimensional shape concept and drawing as well as language arts. I created art projects, teaching them how to make books, about identity and diversity, and acrostic poetry. During down time, I re-decorated five bulletin boards with student artwork and re-printed and laminated signs and magnets. I also helped grade quizzes and check spelling.
I possibly want to go into education when I’m older so working with kids so consistently was really rewarding. It taught me about the patience, creativity, and humor required to work with this age group. This experience helped me figure out that if I were to become an elementary school teacher when I’m older, I would either want to teach third or fourth grade because the kids are still young but are beginning to develop into their own people. I strongly recommend working in a classroom if possible, even if you are not interested in teaching. It is a very rewarding experience and will definitely tire you out if you’re looking for something to do!
With hunger being one of the most prevalent issues our nation and world must face today, I have become very interested in finding ways to help bring food to those unable to get the resources others are fortunate enough to afford. I became especially inspired by a PSA on the PATH train which said that the number of homeless children in NYC has increased by the thousands over the past several years and that some records should be fixed, not broken. With this in mind, I went to the Hoboken Homeless Shelter to see how I could help. Last year, I helped cook, serve, and clean up dinner for a large group of homeless people. Everyone I worked with was so inspiring and selfless and made me want to continue supporting my local shelter. Doing any type of service is rewarding, but helping my own community and being able to work with such an amazing group of employees and volunteers made this experience especially gratifying. I definitely plan on continuing my volunteer work with the shelter and hope to also get involved with City Harvest, an organization that helps redistribute food, eliminating much of the food waste in our city.
For my service project, three of the other students in my history class and I decided to research, visit, and attempt to win a $5000 grant for a non-profit organization called DreamYard. DreamYard grants underprivileged youth in the Bronx a safe place where they can be free to express themselves through many different mediums of art. When researching the lack of access to the arts across New York City, we realized how privileged we were and how much we took the arts for granted. Visiting DreamYard and being able to see how it positively affected the lives of hundreds of kids each day made us see how important the arts really are. Over the course of the project, I worked on and improved my public speaking skills. I am normally very scared while speaking in front of big crowds so, while nerveracking, standing in front of my classmates ultimately helped me get over my fear.
The most rewarding thing for me about the whole project was visiting the art center and actually speaking to some of the students. We asked a couple of the how DreamYard positively impacted their everyday lives and seeing how well-spoken and how truly passionate they were about DreamYard made me praise the organization even more. In the future, I hope to volunteer at DreamYard to help with an art class or rebuild a park. I will talk more to board member of the organization, Abby Turk, about how to get more involved, as I definitely want to stay connected to DreamYard.
I worked alone.