By: Wendy Tremblay, MAEE Board of Directors and Early Childhood Nature Specialist
“Why do you do it?” A simple question. Not always with a simple answer.
I’ve been asked this question more than once in the past month, and it really got me thinking about my purpose. Not just in my current job or my role on the MAEE board of directors, but overall. Why do I do the things I do?
I currently work as a Nature Specialist at a private preschool in Mendota Heights. I have enjoyed my 7 years of work there, and now have the luxury of sending my children to the same school. My prior jobs included the typical environmental education variety of part-time and temporary positions to somehow get close to the 40 hours needed to maybe pay the bills. In the EE world, well paying, full-time positions are hard to come by, for a variety of reasons. If this is true, then “why do you do it”?
The same could be said for a career in education, particularly early childhood education. Current research and trends are showing the need for a quality education, and the earlier in life, the better. So it would make sense that we would need quality teachers to provide a variety of high quality experiences for our early childhood audience. Yet, the salary for most early childhood teachers is close to minimum wage and teacher burn-out is a real worry. “Why do you do it?”
I started to take a look at my priorities. As a nature specialist, my priorities are not only to get the children outside, but to provide them with outdoor nature experiences where they can take that sense of wonder and amazement about our natural world into the next phases of their lives. As a mother, I want the same for my kids, and I try to add outside time into our daily schedule as much as possible. As the current MAEE president, I hope that our little non-profit organization and all of the work we do will work to empower educators to bring lessons outside and explore the curiosity of students.
I know my answer to this question will not be the same as yours. We all have a drive, that thing that pushes you to get up every morning and add things to your to-do-list. Our priorities might change from day to day, but the overall goal should remain. What is your passion? What drives you?
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.” -David Sobel