Westward Bound: 2011-2012

Hazel and Joe both landed Naturalist Educator internships at Foothill Horizons Outdoor School in Sonora, California. During this year, Hazel and Joe had their first hands-on experiences teaching 6th graders about geology, ecology, conservation, and the Me-Wuk people in an entirely outdoor setting.

While being intensely mentored on how to be effective outdoor educators, Hazel and Joe were amazed and inspired by the workplace culture at Foothill Horizons. Interns were treated as valued staff and were incorporated into important decision-making processes for the school. All staff at Foothill Horizons, including interns, were being compensated above minimum wage and worked 40 hour weeks--they would later learn that this workplace culture is almost unheard of in the environmental education field.

The greatest take-away for Hazel and Joe from their year at Foothill Horizons was the importance of providing high quality professional development, a living wage, and reasonable working hours to all staff. The minor scheduling adjustments required to create such a workplace at Foothill Horizons resulted in the greatest creativity, dedication, effectiveness, and enthusiasm that they had ever seen.