By Nat Mengist, Children’s Garden Coordinator
Sometimes people end up working in the food system unexpectedly. Such is the case with Shaila Bolger, an intern with Seattle Tilth’s children’s education programs. Shaila was matched with Seattle Tilth through the Undergraduate Community Based Intern program from the University of Washington’s Carlson Center for Leadership and Public Service. Her upbeat, reliable, and resilient personality have been a great fit for the intern program, which is key to sustaining quality youth programming.
When Shaila began interning in March, she didn’t have very much experience teaching kids or gardening. She felt intimidated about leading a group of students. But after a season of Seattle Tilth garden tours at the Good Shepherd Center Children’s Garden and at Rainier Beach Learning Garden, Shaila now feels confident teaching children about plants, worms and soil. She learned that children’s garden education is not so much about achieving pedagogical perfection, but rather facilitating children’s innate curiosity for new experiences of the natural world. When school got out last spring, she was ready to jump right in to assisting with summer garden camps.
Shaila’s experience has been deeper than just gardening. As a junior with hopes of majoring in Law, Societies and Justice, she has a great passion for confronting the many inequities that plague our world. Even though she may not pursue a career in education or gardening, her experience working with youth through Seattle Tilth has given her greater insight about the inequities that students of color face.
Her conversations with staff members of color at South Shore School gave her an opportunity to understand the many structural issues facing the school and the Rainier Beach community. She firmly believes that “the Rainier Beach Learning Garden is an asset to the South Shore School,” and hopes that the time students spend in the garden is an opportunity for them to “all be equals.”
We couldn’t have said it better, Shaila!
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