One of the most rewarding experiences for me as an environmental educator this summer was working with the Instructors in Training (IITs). At Courageous, the IITs are high school students who have attended the summer youth program for many years or are interested in becoming a sailing instructor.
The environmental aspect of the IIT program has two main components: learning more about environmental science and learning how to teach environmental science. Each week, on Tuesday afternoons, I facilitated a mini-lecture on the week’s topic (mammals, crustaceans, sharks, etc), then the IITs participated in hands-on activities or experiments to further understand the subject. These lessons were appropriate for high school level learners, using proper vocabulary and themes. However, the hands-on activities were always fun and allowed the IITs the chance to immerse themselves in the learning in a fully enjoyable way.
On Thursday afternoons, the IITs and I worked on how to teach environmental topics to their future sailing students. These lessons often involved half of the group of IITs pretending to be beginning sailing students and the other half of the IITs facilitating an environmental activity for them. Sometimes the lessons focused more on how to talk to students about nature and the outdoors while sailing.
I had a great time working with the IITs this summer. Their energy and willingness to learn were a true inspiration. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to lead future instructors in becoming more environmentally aware and more eager to teach environmental education to their students.