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Exploration of novelty

By Kaia Bierman, urban outreach specialist/ AmeriCorps member with MN DNR Parks and Trails through Conservation Corps’ Individual Placement program

Individual Placement/ AmeriCorps members at Chimney Rock

Regal Fritillary at Kellogg Weaver SNA

The Individual Placement program supports its specialists to seek out professional development and networking opportunities to better prepare them for their next step in the environmental field. I have grown a lot through the exploration of new ideas, through formal advancement, and also alongside the camaraderie of my peers.

As specialists, who are hard at work at our individual placements, we don’t have time to check in very often. Fortunately, we got to spend a few days together at our Fall Retreat at Whitewater State Park, sharing our experiences in our positions and looking ahead to our last few months.

Coming together outside of our regular work environments is important for reflection as you start to look and think about things differently. In place of our routine, we hiked the bluffs and climbed the Elba Fire Tower. We traveled to John A. Latsch State Park to ascend the half-mile long steep stairs and to Great River Bluffs State Park where we hiked the trails to a scenic point to take in Queen’s Bluff and the Mississippi River Valley. The specialists involved with the Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs) program brought us to the peaceful rolling landscape of Kellogg Weaver Dunes SNA.

A few of the Individual Placement/ AmeriCorps members at the 2019 Environmental Education Conference

A few of the individual placement specialists attended the 2019 Environmental Education Conference to learn more about citizen science, program assessment, early childhood development, accessibility in the outdoors, and reaching diverse audiences. We were able to see what leaders in this field have discovered works best in their educational pursuits, and what challenges they are hard at work to overcome.

While some of these topics covered added to my preexisting knowledge, I learned about more unfamiliar concepts as well. One of these newer topics was Phenology, the study of changes in seasons through the life cycles of plants and animals. Learning about this field has expanded my working knowledge of understanding the complex web of the natural world.

When you get into a routine with your day to day work, it’s important to pursue learning in other realms so you can gain innovative approaches and remain inspired through times of challenge. Whether its work or personal growth, novelty can be the fuel of motivation to stay productive and resilient, whether it’s taking a step back to enjoy what you have accomplished or gaining inspiration from a new perspective of the world.

Kellogg Weaver SNA

View of Queen’s Bluff SNA and Mississippi River Valley