Our Youth Education team has a new Coordinator
Over the summer, we brought Wesley Yoder (he/him) on as our Youth Education Program Coordinator, and he jumped right in helping to deliver fun-filled summer camps. Wesley has an extensive background in environmental education, and brings knowledge and skills from his degree in biology with a focus on ecology. Now, he and Becky are excited to begin working together with students in classrooms around Central Oregon, delivering programs like EarthSmart, Outdoor Days, and more!
To officially introduce him to the Environmental Center community, we invited Wesley to tell us more about himself, and asked him a few get to know you questions. Read on to “meet” Wesley!
Q: What are you most excited about as the new education coordinator at the environmental center?
I’m really excited about the chance to build [my skills] in an organization. In the past, I did a lot of seasonal work, and now I’m excited to start new programs and watch them grow, and actually be here to see what they turn into in three or more years. Also, I’m excited to learn the ecosystems here more and get to know the places we take students.
Q: What’s your favorite part about working with students outdoors?
There’s a lot of really cool stuff outdoors! Getting to be there for a student’s first time eating a wild berry, or picking apart goose poop to see what’s in there, or doing things that I might do when I’m outside by myself and getting them to do it too is really cool. I just like talking about nature and kids definitely want to hear it!
Q: In what ways do you bring your own personality or style into how you teach?
I’m typically bombastic, goofy, and weird, and that seems to resonate with the kids. You know, like doing little dances. Sometimes doing that with adults – like, “oh look a beetle!” – it can just be different. I like letting kids know that it’s okay to get excited about things. Especially with junior high kids, who sometimes think it’s cool to be bored. I try to demonstrate that an adult can be excited about the little things, and find passions outdoors.
Q: If you could only spend recreational time in one type of ecosystem/environment, what would it be and why?
Seasonal wetlands. There’s always really cool stuff there, because there’s constant change. Because of the amount of water in them, they’re so biodiverse! You get a totally different experience in the same area in the spring vs. in the fall. Also, in wetlands you have to move slow, where you can really notice things or see something really up close – there’s so much life there that every little bit has something cool to look at.
Q: If you could turn into any insect whenever you wanted, which kind of insect would you be and why?
I don’t have a philosophical answer to this one, but a praying mantis would be cool. They can fly, they are tough, and they are just neat. I’ve even seen videos of them capturing birds and mice!