Week 9: A Gooey Butter Cake Goodbye

I can’t believe it’s time to say goodbye to my summer as a Fellow for the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. What an absolute blast it’s been working with the incredible staff here, and I’m so grateful for all the things I’ve learned and done in just nine short weeks! I’ll go into further thank-yous and reflections later on, but first I want share about all the fun we had this week!

Saturday and Sunday were busy days manning the front desk, and Monday we hosted our first conservation program of the summer involving trash pick-up down by the Scioto River and chopping out teasel, an invasive species in our grasslands. It was quite hot on Monday, and I was worried the kids were going to be bored and tired, but I was really impressed with the energy they brought and the teamwork they showed–in just one hour, eighteen kids picked up over six hundred pieces of trash and chopped down over a thousand heads of teasel! So that experience left me with a hopeful feeling because the kids were able to work together and make a difference! I also ran a few errands to get ready for Wednesday’s fundraiser and got to stop by a snow cone stand, which was perfect for such a hot day!

Teasel

Tuesday featured a program on habitat exploration, which is one of my favorite programs because it involves sit spots! I always enjoy reflecting in nature with the kids. We also had a staff meeting Tuesday afternoon to talk about the GIAC’s participation in hosting a Big Table, so that was exciting to share what I had learned from the Columbus Foundation. Then, after the meeting, the staff treated me to Jeni’s and gave me the sweetest card! It was great to enjoy some Brambleberry Crisp and Gooey Butter Cake (the BEST flavors) while chatting with everyone about non-work things.

We had another bird study program on Wednesday, and I have always loved playing the Migration Game with the kids, but today I also got to help teach the program to prepare me for leading the whole program on Friday. I felt surprisingly comfortable teaching and engaging with the kids, and they always impress me with what they already know about birds and conservation. The fundraiser at Kingmakers was a blast–we played some fun board games and ate some yummy snacks, and we had a great turnout! I also got to help out with the raffle tickets, but this is also where I had to say goodbye to a few staff members who wouldn’t be there on Friday.

I had my day off on Thursday to move out of my apartment and show my cousin around, and I took her here to the GIAC because our swallowtail butterfly finally hatched, and we wanted to watch her fly off into the world! (: Even on my days off, I just can’t seem to stay away! And today, I led the whole bird program with an absolutely FANTASTIC group of kids. They were so smart and so kind to each other, and it was a great way to end my last day here. I’m really going to miss sharing and learning with kids to get them excited about nature.

Our swallowtail girl! (:

I’ve still got to submit my time, finish my presentation, pack up my desk, and close up the building before it’s goodbye, but it’s not goodbye for good! I’ll be staying on working manager and facility attendant shifts a couple times a month, and I’ll try to help with programs and education, too if I can! So while the next few weeks will be busy with moving back into my dorm room, RA training, and the start of a new semester, I’m excited that I’ll still get to work with the staff here and get to be a part of the GIAC!

So as I wrap my rambling up, I’d like to thank the staff here at the GIAC–Dawn Hammer Tabata (our Executive Director), Michael Goldman (our Conservation Manager), Kristina Rawson (our Operations Manager), Chrissie Wilson (our Educator), Allison Clark (our Education Manager and my supervisor), and Stephanie Weykamp (our Outreach Educator and my deskmate). I can’t thank you all enough for the warmth, kindness, and encouragement you have shown me from my very first day. Thank you for valuing me, being patient and understanding with me, and sharing your knowledge and insights with me, and I will miss working with such a dedicated and wonderful group of people. I’d also like to thank the volunteers and the other folks at and affiliated with the GIAC who keep us going every day and have been really fun to get to know and learn from. Also, thank you to the other Fellows for sharing your experiences and being a fun and inspiring group of people I’ve gotten to know this summer! And of course, a BIG thank-you to everyone at the Columbus Foundation who selected me for this opportunity and have brought us Fellows together during outings and learning sessions–I have learned and grown so much this summer, thanks to you and the connections I’ve gotten the chance to make.

And finally, thanks to everyone who has supported and cheered me on this summer–my family, my friends who helped me move in and out, my roommates, ice cream, and anyone who’s kept up with my summer here on this blog! I hope you all have a fantastic rest of your summers and a wonderful weekend! (:

With love and gratitude,

McKenzie (:

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