Meet Our Member: Marina Welch
Environmental Educator and Resource Specialist, Winooski Valley Park District
As the environmental educator and resource specialist with Winooski Valley Park District, Marina Welch spends a large part of her time planning and leading nature activities with students. She goes to different schools in WVPD's member towns and engages students on topics such as ecosystems, animal adaptations, forestry, and wetland health. As spring approaches, Marina will be bringing more students to the parks for field trips and service learning projects. Marina grew up in Maine and earned her B.A. in Biology with a specialization in Ecology and Conservation at Boston University. While in school she was a biological technician for the National Park Service (Boston Harbor Islands and Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site) for two years and later a Park Interpreter for the Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation. Marina enjoys birding, hiking, and doing crafts like Native American beadwork/leatherwork and quilting.
Why did you join VHCB AmeriCorps?
I wanted to learn more about environmental education and develop my teaching skills. I found the position through WVPD first, and then learned more about AmeriCorps and its mission. At that point I really wanted to be a member of an organization doing such phenomenal work in the conservation field.
What are you learning or gaining out of your service?
I've always believed that outdoor experiences are key to a child's healthy development. Environmental education offers a way to satisfy a child's need to run around and explore while addressing education standards and learning milestones. However, many teachers find it difficult to integrate all of the environmental opportunities available to them because they don't know how these activities and lessons meet standards. There's a statewide goal among environmental educators to try and appeal to teachers and morph lessons to satisfy Next Generation Science Standards. I hadn't known how hard it is to promote environmental education among schools even in a state like Vermont.
What has surprised you about serving in AmeriCorps?
The sense of community among the AmeriCorps members is amazing! Everyone is so supportive of each other and it seems I meet an alum everywhere I go in Vermont.
What is the best thing about serving at your site?
I get to walk around in parks and enjoy nature while making a difference in students' lives. I love seeing the excitement some of them show when they see a bird fly in front of them or when they get to sit in a wetland and observe the cattails.
What would you like other people to know about serving in AmeriCorps?
It is a wonderful learning experience. The sites members serve at know that it is an opportunity for members to grow and develop skills that will be useful in the professional world and especially in non profits. They help to hone skills and support members in their personal development.