LFS 496 Student Profile: Madelena, Nature Camps Assistant for Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association
Supervisor: Natasha Friedmann (she/they), Assistant Manager of Youth Programs for Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association
What do you study?
I am majoring in Food, Nutrition, and Health
What was your work placement?
As a Nature Camps Assistant, I was very lucky to have a hybrid role that allowed me to work in an administrative role with office responsibilities along with leadership opportunities with summer campers. Part of my responsibilities included preparing and facilitating activity-based workshops for campers and logistical responsibilities pertaining to summer camps such as care plans for campers, itineraries, name tags, and consolidating family feedback. I loved how my placement gave me the chance to experience so many different perspectives of youth outdoor education as it pertains to the food system in such an integrated manner.
What did you get out of doing this placement?
This placement was more than I ever could’ve hoped for. I’m walking away from this experience with a deeper passion for food system education and youth discovery-based learning opportunities. I enjoyed getting to contribute to administrative progress in camp and developed a much more detailed understanding of the processes involved in running a summer camp. My placement helped me develop skills in organization of materials, proficiency in office manners and organizing educational resources. My experiences leading camp activities and working with youth directly served as excellent learning opportunities to enhance camper engagement, activity facilitation and workshop structure. My placement really fostered the development and enhancement of multidisciplinary skills that have better equipped me to continue into my future in the food system.
What was the most surprising thing you learned throughout your work placement?
My placement validated the idea that food system concepts really are everywhere. It was exciting and enlightening to me to experience first hand how concepts I am learning about the food system directly translate to youth summer camp themes such as “Dirt to Dinner” and “Strategizing Sustainability”. It was such a cool experience to contribute to this education and foster individualized connections to nature for campers.
Why are you interested in working within the food system?
The leadership and educational attributes of this placement really struck me as something I would like to pursue. I strive to make a positive impact in food system education to foster this ongoing and continuous relationship with the food system and nature around us.
The VBGA has had great success with students from the LFS 496 Career Development Program, and this term was no different – the interviewing and onboarding process was smooth, candidates were qualified and highly enthusiastic, and timelines and requirements were communicated by UBC program coordinators clearly and effectively.
This term’s role, the Nature Camps Assistant, provided integral administrative support to a program welcoming over 500 children ages 5-10 and approximately 30 staff and volunteers throughout the summer. The student was also able to harness their food systems knowledge and interest in education and communication to plan and deliver a series of diverse and engaging workshops and presentations for our participants. Their ability to understand and cater to our various program needs was so evident that they were offered employment within our team at the immediate conclusion of their placement, and they were also asked to contribute to other projects and events within our organization. The success of this position has made it clear that the same role will be fundamental to our programs for next year, and we wholeheartedly look forward to hosting students in various roles in the future.