Story by Brian Orr – Interpretation and Outreach Programmer at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park
Imagine having one of those jobs where you say to yourself: I can’t believe I get paid to do this.
Well, I don’t have to imagine, for me it’s a reality. Besides having a provincial park as my backyard, being a park interpreter is the best job I could ever hope for. Every morning as I get ready for the day, I become more and more excited. Today, I’m leading two separate environmental education programs – one on invertebrates (insects, spiders and such) and another on wetland ecology.
The buses arrive with the school children; eager and excited. The energy level is higher than ever, but I’m not afraid, I feel ready. Much like the inspirational author and educator, Joseph Cornell, I have honed my skills over many years as an educator to be able to confidently guide my class through programs and keep them engaged along the way.
As Interpreters, sure, we are there to convey information, curriculum and messages…but more importantly, we are there to help facilitate connections to the natural world for our park visitors. Today, my students were not only learning about insects, they got to place themselves in the mind of an insect! As I took the students into the forest or the pond, each one of them was given the chance to explore the world from a new perspective.
One of my favourite parts about this job is being able to give a child a small piece of the puzzle that is the natural world around them, and then seeing the awe-struck look on their face when they figure out the rest all on their own. It makes me so happy when I hear little discoveries like “Hey guys, I just found a wolf spider, and it’s a boy!”
In the park today, the student’s pond dipped, caught bugs, watched local wildlife, re-enacted a 20,000 year old glacier, played games and learned a lot about ecology. Ten years from now most of them won’t remember what they did while they were here or who I am, but all of them will remember how they felt when they got to connect with nature.