Local Alum Helps Children Connect with Nature
Local Alum Helps Children Connect with Nature
November 20, 2017 - By Prescott College
Ellen Bashor turned her Senior Project into a career she's passionate about
Prescott College alum, Ellen Bashor, turned her Senior Project into a career she's passionate about. Her Senior Project focused on nature and place-based education. Titled Explorations in Transformative Pedagogy, Ellen designed a two-week curriculum for All Children in the Woods, a local nature camp for children started by Prescott College faculty member Mariana Altrichter. The curriculum allowed for, “social and emotional connections that guide children when they are coming to their own ethical conclusions about their relationship to the earth.” Bashor hopes that providing an opportunity for children to connect with nature at a young age will ultimately help, “cultivate emotions that will stay with them their entire lives and eventually lead into more scientific and academically-based environmental advocacy.” The nature camp is now in its third year and Ellen and Mariana are always designing new activities and adventures for the children. The camp has been very successful as parents are starting to realize the importance of nature in their children’s lives as well as their own. It has maintained a full enrollment every year to the point where they, “have more kids than [they] know what to do with.” Bashor states that, “we have developed a family in nature camp, integrating into the community, and getting parents involved in developing the same love for their local ecology.”
Extremely satisfied with the outcome of her education at Prescott College, Bashor states that, “one of the number one reasons I value Prescott College so much is because it 100% prepared me for my career.” Bashor lists numerous classes that helped prepare her for her profession. “My confidence was strengthened when I realized I could achieve the tasks at hand using the knowledge and skill-sets that I had gained from these experiences.” Ellen found developing her own independent study courses really helped prepare her for her career. “Advocating for yourself and your passions is a unique ability that many college students don’t have yet when they graduate. Instead of just having a thorough knowledge of something, Prescott College students complete independent studies.” Independent studies allowed Bashor to pursue what she cared most about, “because that will be what I can achieve the most at, when I am driven by what I believe is right.” By having an incredible support network at Prescott College and the resources to equip herself with networking in the broader community, it was not difficult for Bashor to be confident in her ability to succeed. Prescott College ensured her success by giving her an, “endless opportunity to practice and grow [her] skills” and “to keep trying until [she] succeeded.”
In addition to her work at the nature camp, Ellen also works for the Prescott College Center for Early Childhood Nature and Place-based Education. The most satisfying aspect of Bashor’s career is the same thing that was so satisfying to her as a student at Prescott College. “What will continue to motivate and drive me is that realization that the work I am doing is making a difference.” Bashor finds it extremely fulfilling to be able to be with people on their journeys. “I see transformations happening right before my eyes when I work with teachers and students.” By helping others make sustainable choices and fall in love with nature, “I have seen that come back tenfold in my own personal growth.” When Bashor hears someone else sharing the same future hopes she has for the world, the experience is profound. “I love the feeling of inspiration I get when one of my students teaches me something I didn’t know, or when I hear their plans of picking up trash by the creek with their parents.” These are the moments Bashor experiences the greatest hope for the future.
As advice for current Prescott College students, Ellen Bashor encourages students to get to know the Prescott community more. Bashor believes that, “sometimes we forget about working in our own backyard.” Starting in a small community helps students practice advocacy, change-making and leadership before they apply their work on a large scale. Bashor strongly believes that, “Prescott College students have an abundance of knowledge, skills and resources that could help this community blossom.” After working with the community for a long time, she recognized that there is still a lot of work to be done and, “working in one’s own backyard can really help nurture one’s community.” She encourages students to remember that they are not just an important member of the Prescott College community but also an important member of Prescott as a whole. In addition to getting involved in the broader community, Bashor concludes with the advice to, “try something that makes you uncomfortable. Get to know a community outside your own department. Take charge of your life, create the best path for your desires, and forge connections with mentors and the community. By actively participating in the community, students create more opportunity and freedom for themselves.”