How a Flyer Changed my Life

By Leana Thompson, Senior, Natural Sciences

“Are you passionate about nature, science, or education?” I read on a green flyer on campus.

“Yes,” I thought.

“Do you seek to inspire the next generation to understand & care for our planet?”

“Yes!”

“The Institute for Sustainable Development Outdoor Classroom NEEDS INTERNS!”

“YES!” I immediately wrote the date of an intern meeting listed on the flyer into my planner.

The fateful day I saw that flyer was nearly two years ago now and I’ve made many fond memories since with the Outdoor Classroom and the CSU, Chico ecological reserves where they take place. When I started with the Outdoor 2Classroom, we hosted field trips for third and fourth graders. Interns led third-grade students between four modules at Butte Creek Ecological Preserve. Third-grade modules included a Maidu Native American station, bird banding, Each One-Teach One native plant station and native turtle module.

Fourth-grade trips were held at Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve and included a Maidu station, bird banding, a nature hike and an archeology station. I was hooked from the very first trip! Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they became little archeological explorers, released a bird, or learned how to make baskets with local Maidu tribe members let me know I was part of something amazing. I felt like a little kid again as I learned along with them. The knowledge that I was instrumental in providing these children with a hands-on, minds-on learning experience was so fulfilling, and I wanted to be as involved as possible.

The Reserves staff was completely supportive of my enthusiasm, and since my first day, I have had the joy of being involved in many capacities. As an intern coordinator for the Outdoor Classroom, I gained leadership skills, met like-minded peers and even got to be involved in assessing and developing modules.

1Interested in sharing the value of nature with people of all ages, I became involved in the reserves’ Hike Program. I earned class credit through an environmental literacy internship assisting the education and research coordinator extend the spring hike series through summer and fall. As a land stewardship intern I had the opportunity to work on restoration projects on the reserves, learning hands on about ecology and land management.

As a natural sciences major in the science education department, I found these internships invaluable in giving me experience in outdoor education, science, and leadership. Overall, I’ve learned more about the natural environment and how to effectively communicate its value to others in my time with the reserves than in any classroom setting.

The CSU, Chico Ecological Reserves are available to students as living laboratories for research and exploration of outdoor education, biology, geology, anthropology, and history, among others. Anyone interested in visiting the reserves can do so via the Reserve’s Naturalist Outings Series or Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserves Hunt Program, or as individuals, as both the reserve and preserve are open to public access.

I <3 Chico, Even If It’s Not My Hometown

Maija

By Maija Glasier-Lawson, Anthropology Graduate Student

“My name is Maija Glasier-Lawson, and I am an anthropology graduate student at CSU, Chico.” I have written or spoken a variation of that sentence literally hundreds of times during my time here at Chico. At first I did so out of a need to identify myself, now I say it with pride. I am proud of my role as a graduate student, I am proud to be a student at CSU, Chico, and I am proud to call Chico my hometown, at least for now.

I moved to Chico in 2010, just in time to settle in before the start of the school year. My first weekend here, my roommate and I picked nectarines and experimented with homemade chutney, a great introduction to the bounty of Chico. I spent time in the park, hit the market, and checked out a few local watering holes. Then classes started, and my life as a grad student began. At first, I was a bit daunted by the reading (the unending reading!) and the high expectations of the faculty. Somewhere along the way, I realized that though they had high expectations, the entire anthropology department would be there to support us. Time and time again this has proven true.

The department, the entire university, has exceeded my expectations…all of them. I have worked with people across the campus on a variety of projects, and every single person has been helpful, supportive, and easy to work with. This kind of collegial atmosphere makes, well, it makes everything just a little bit easier. It has also made me want to be more engaged as a student and as a member of the campus community. The more involved I become, the more people I meet and the more impressed I am with the number of faculty, staff, and students who truly care about the students and this University.

My experience as a grad student is not limited to my time in classes, in the library, or late nights pouring through journal articles. When I look back on this part of my life, these things will actually fade, and it will be the Saturday market, swimming in the park, the long days, and the occasionally crazy nights that I smile about. Before I moved here, I had made the decision to plant a few roots in the community, and Chico welcomed me with open arms.

The rich soil and sunshine grows great food and enriches amazing people. There is music and art around every corner and friendly faces on every street. I can get my Thai fix or walk across the street for fine wine or great pub food. No conversation about Chico is complete without a mention of the beauty and sheer enjoyment that can be found in Bidwell Park. I could go on and on, but if you live here, you already know what I am talking about; if you don’t, then you should come and check us out. You won’t be disappointed!

I tell people that I love being a student, and I really do. I like my classes, I get to work on interesting projects, I respect and admire the people around me, and most of the time even the reading has its rewards. In my clearly biased opinion, the anthropology department is top notch, and the students who make it through are already doing great things. CSU, Chico is a place of opportunity and reward for the students who are up to the challenge.

I also mean it when I tell people that I love Chico. Whether you are from here or just passing through, Chico has something to offer. Though I cannot stay, I hope to be back some day. Though Chico is not my hometown, Chico will always have a home in my heart.

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Maija Glasier-Lawson is the 2012 recipient of the the William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement and the Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholar. Read more about her award and achievements on the CSU, Chico News website.