Giving Back To My Community

I wiped the dust off of another box from our crawlspace. We were preparing for a yard sale that weekend and I found myself taking a trip down memory lane with my husband, sifting through old school papers and toys from my childhood. These boxes had been packed under the house collecting dust for a decade and a half, waiting to be rediscovered. I opened an old, cracked binder labeled “Horticulture and Ethnobotany” and a composition notebook fell out. I was immediately brought back to 2001, when I was a sophomore at Polaris K-12 in Anchorage, taking what would turn out to be one of my favorite classes, Horticulture.

I flipped through my composition notebook and found an entry dated February 28th 2001. “Campbell Creek Science Center – planted two tropical 2 inch plants and one 2 inch Polka Dot plant.” I flipped through the binder, looking at old papers. I found one from May 5th, 2001 titled, “Growing Herbs Hydroponically in a light box.” One of my favorite activities had been our light box projects. I flipped through the report and ended up on the acknowledgement page. “I would lastly like to acknowledge the Campbell Creek Science Center for letting us use their space. Without it, we would not have accomplished all we have.”

My teacher was the one to first introduce me to the Campbell Creek Science Center, which is ironic as I had lived within a mile of the Center for most of my life. At the Center I learned how to Orienteer in the dead of winter, as well as how to plant terrariums and how to monitor the growth of plants we started from seed in the solarium. I slept overnight at the Center for a Future Farmers of America event. I remember one spring, sitting alongside Campbell Creek, deep in the woods sketching plants in a small notebook. I started to view the Center as a home away from home, just across the street from where I lived.

My first thought upon seeing my paper and my notebook from 16 years ago was, “I have to show my Board!”

Just two months prior I had accepted my first board seat. I had wanted to get more involved in the community I lived in, grew up in, and made a living in. After nearly four years of consideration, I joined the Friends of the Campbell Creek Science Center. I had been eyeing that Board for a while, as I had never forgotten my time spent at the Center.

I learned more about what the Friends group did for the Center, including raising money to provide scholarships for children in Southcentral Alaska to have access to the same hands-on educational opportunities as I did in my youth. I knew I had to be a part of this group that helped other students get engaged in science and the natural world, literally in their backyard. I also get to help students in a different way by helping connect them to scholarship opportunities. I am the Program Associate of Scholarships at The Alaska Community Foundation. It’s a perfect fit for me. I care about educational opportunities for students because I was once a beneficiary of these same educational opportunities. I’m extremely grateful to work for an organization that encourages its employees to get out in the community and join nonprofit boards, or volunteer for causes they care about. That call to civic engagement is important and I’m lucky to work somewhere that it’s valued. I’m also lucky to have dusted off that old box so I could rediscover my youthful self and remember why it is so important that there are places like the Center for young students. That’s why the work of the Friends of the Campbell Creek Science Center matters. Future children will get the same wonderful experiences that I did. They will gain an appreciation for and understanding of the natural environment that surrounds them. And I hope they will have their own notebooks to fill.