Throughout the spring while I have been writing my thesis, I have been fortunate to gain practical experience in a related field at the same time. My capstone focusing on the effectiveness of garden education and its ability to be a tool for change, has benefited greatly from my work at Growing Gardens. Being able to learn from garden educators first hand has allowed me to figure out if being a garden educator is something that I am truly interested in. Observing and helping educators with a critical eye, trying to understand ways in which they teach effectively as well as think about changes I would make if I were implementing these lessons. Gaining these experiences has helped me understand that my capstone will help me to be a more effective educator in the future, having observational experiences under my belt.
Spending time applying to jobs over the past few months and currently, I have been looking at positions that involve aspects of education, food systems and outdoor guiding. These searches have changed a little bit recently due to current events, but in interviews done previously I found my capstone to be extremely helpful in answering questions. Working on such a large project has given me time to think through lots of different angles and perspectives. For example when I think about why it is important for students to have access to garden education, a possible interview question, I am able to pull from my own writing, talking about the perceived impact and often realistic outcomes of education. Recently, I have been working on refining my thoughts in a professional setting, thinking about how to describe what I have written in 30 pages in just a few sentences.
For a large part of my methodology I spent time interviewing educators in the Portland area over the phone, asking questions about their experiences as teachers and thoughts about the global food system. These interviews provided me with a lot of information as well as great practice conducting interviews. I have had job interviews in the past, but I had never spent so much time being the interviewer. These interviews gave me confidence in the questions I was asking and allowed me to practice comfort speaking with virtual strangers over the phone. I am planning to reconnect with most of these people as I get closer to finishing my final draft, sharing with them my final work and am excited about the potential to forge more lasting connections.
Overall I feel confident moving forward knowing that even if I do not have a job at this time, I have gained a lot of useful skills while working on my capstone. To summarize, I think I will take away the interviewing technique, connections made in the field, writing respectfully about others and the ability to work on a project over a long period of time, making constant changes.