Story of the Week

Fall Nature Artists

"Wow, where to begin! These first few months of service with VHCB and South Hero Land Trust have been exciting, overwhelming, thought-provoking, and so very meaningful. It is difficult to simply narrow down one thing to talk about, but if I had to choose, one highlight of my service thus far would have to be the “Nature Artists Camp” we held this fall for a group of awesome 3rd and 4th graders at our partner school, Folsom Educational Center, in South Hero. I had never really worked with kids before, and have always been the youngest in my family, so being somewhat of an authority figure to these little ones was an entirely new experience for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this 6-week after-school camp, but these kids really blew me away. Together, we had a blast doing all sorts of nature-based activities, with the mindset of deepening our connection to the land. We made art out of natural materials, did Halloween face painting with natural dyes made from veggies from our garden, crafted bowls made from clay while discussing the cultural significance of clay to Indigenous communities, built a shelter together from sticks and cattail reed we gathered in freezing temperatures, made tea from harvested plants and herbs, and so much more. While it was often difficult to get some kids to quiet down and focus on the various activities, the moments we shared having meaningful conversations about food access, environmental stewardship, and social justice were truly powerful. These kids asked really thoughtful questions; questions I wouldn’t expect to hear from an 8-year-old. They practiced "honorable harvest" whenever they took something from nature to use, and beamed with excitement as they showed me the special ways they chose to give thanks to the land.

I developed a unique relationship with this group, where they were just as much the teacher as I was. They taught me a lot about the beauty in kindness and sensitivity, and that caring for the earth can be as simple as hugging a tree or picking up trash - some things I saw these kids do without me even suggesting it. I can’t wait to continue learning from them throughout the rest of my service year!"  @annamariahh98 @southherolandtrust