Meet our volunteers
This year I had the privilege of volunteering on the overnight kayaking trip with EarthTeam. I was not prepared for the reward this trip provided me with. As a mother, I have a deeper level of appreciation for this team of individuals working to educate our future. EarthTeam provides the students with the knowledge that we only have this one Earth and how important it is to care for it. On this trip, I witnessed students from different backgrounds working together and stepping out of their comfort zones to connect and socialize with other students they may not have thought to connect with before. I was amazed at how involved these students were throughout the entire trip, not only staying engaged in topics about caring for the sea life but also the importance of always leaving a space cleaner then you found it. It was a complete pleasure working alongside Jenna. I believe her position in these students lives is important not only by providing them with the opportunity to get familiar with the outdoors but also by how much knowledge they are gaining that they can apply to their futures.
Volunteering with Earth Team has benefited me in many many ways. Mainly it’s given me hope that future generations will be passionate about protecting our environment. In a lot of ways, it takes a certain amount of privilege to be able to address the issues around our changing climate. Not everyone can afford to buy local groceries or afford to avoid the convenience of single-use plastic or even have the leisure time to go out to the beach or the snow and build a strong relationship with nature. Earth Team provides an opportunity for kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds an opportunity to build that relationship, and it gives me hope and reassurance that the youth in this region will actively fight for climate action. Another huge thing I’ve gained from my experience with Earth Team has been the opportunity to build my relationship with nature. I’ve always loved camping, backpacking and kayaking being outside in any capacity are my favorite thing but because I’ve been so busy with work and school its been extremely difficult to arrange trips. Thanks to Earth Team I’ve gotten to spend time at the beach, in the snow, and at the river, all things that I love to do but rarely get to because of financial and time barriers. I’m so thankful for Earth Teams Outdoor Explorer’s Program, and I’m so excited for any future trips I will be able to support.
My goal this year was to engage with my community through volunteering. I struggled to find an organization that resonated with me and one that had multiple opportunities to connect with the people from my community. I was immediately attracted to Earth Team because of their Mission, and their ability to stoke a passion for nature in Bay Area teenagers by giving them opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoors. At the end of the trips, students share their reflections. The reflections have a common theme of being challenged, learning, love, and excitement about the outdoors. These trips with Earth Team’s Outdoor Explorer Program ignites a true love for being in nature. I’m grateful to be able to support these teens through their transformative years and to be part of the catalyst that leads to a love for the outdoors. Volunteering in the Outdoor Explorers Program is accessible for me because the funding also allows me to participate in activities with the student interns.
This past May I volunteered with the Earth Team on an outdoor camping trip. This trip was an amazing experience working with the youth, especially since it was an all girls trip. The activities that our group participated in included: team building, kayaking, cooking, setting and cleaning up camp, and visiting a local conservatory center. These activities provided lots of learning opportunities for the students, especially since it was a lot of students’ first time camping and or cooking. It also helped the students work on their social skills considering that there were students from different high schools in the East Bay. It was cool to see how fast the girls got along with each other and how well they worked as a group as well. I believe listening to them share their backgrounds and previous projects they have worked on at their schools really engaged the community members we interacted with throughout this trip. At the end of our trip, students and team leaders were asked to reflect on how their weekend was spent. Many students expressed gratitude and their vision for future environmental changes. I believe this trip helped give students and team leaders more insight on the importance of their environmental efforts and to spread awareness of it. Overall I believe this program is an extremely enriching program not only for the youth, but anyone in the community, and I would definitely support a future trip again.
We were ready for a mindfulness retreat months ago when the California fires smoked out our ability to travel. When we finally set out this past weekend we had a small group – half “adults”, half students – due to other happenings. In this, reminders were given that as much as we learn in predetermined classrooms, planned retreats, and lead activities the moments our mindfulness is often practiced are the waves and randomness. That adults are still students of life, and that young students have a way of embracing the planet in ways that bring us back to life. I appreciate how the small group allowed us more freedom in our space and schedule to experience the uniqueness every person brought to the camp table and to get covered in sand attempting to fly.