At the end of my 3rd week, I am taken aback at how I have learned so much, and how the time has flown by. One of the biggest things I have learned already is that plans change and things happen. I have done almost no work on the projects that I was told I’d be doing before my arrival. At first, that made me uneasy, but it turns out that the projects I am being given are much more interesting and exciting! In my personal life, I have injured my foot, causing commuting changes, timing changes, and general difficulty with a lot of activities and tasks that seem simple. I am fortunate to be working at an office that is extremely supportive of my recovery.
I had no idea how a nonprofit worked. I cannot even think of specific perceptions I had, but if I had any, they were all wrong. I think the NAAEE office may be unique, though. We have around 20 full-time employees, a few part-time employees, and 3 interns. Today, just like most Fridays, there were only around 4 of us in the office. Many employees work remotely (and actually live in other states) and many work from home a couple days a week. Some days, there aren’t enough chairs for everyone and some days it is almost lonely and too quiet. The number of projects that any one person has at a given time is hard to fathom. Everyone here is so dedicated to their work and believes wholeheartedly in its mission… something that may be hard to find outside of the nonprofit sector.
In only three weeks, I have gotten to do some amazing things. A coworker and I called every single state Department of Education, I have read and summarized legislation, brainstormed social media plans, sailed on the Chesapeake in a historic Skipjack, researched grants from EPA and NOAA in hopes of maintaining funding to their environmental education programs, reached out to huge companies for potential sponsorships and donations for our upcoming conference, and of course filed some invoices. From each of these projects, I have learned new skills and knowledge. I have learned how fast some things move, but how slow others go.
I have never cared more about the future of the environment and environmental education than I do now, and I expect that to grow by the end of the summer. Every day that I learn something new, I see how crucial it is that we educate youth to become leaders in the environment.
I am so excited to see what the next 5 weeks bring. Every week, we have a new large project as an organization, whether it is for our 47th Annual Conference, a corporate partnership, our Global initiatives, or our policy/advocacy work. Every project feels extremely meaningful and impactful.