The 2020-2021 Teen Docent Cohort reflect on their year with the EV

Each year the EV trains a handful of teen docents and last year we started a new teen cohort designed to create community, enrichment, and connection among the next generation of environmental stewards. However, nature had other plans and during the pandemic our Teen Docent program pivoted to meet the needs of remote volunteering and socially distant/covid modified outdoor community education. Read more about their personal experiences over this last year.

Maddie volunteering for Open hours at the duck pond.

I joined as part of the EV teen docent problem in the spring of last year, hoping for an opportunity to learn more about the nature around me and to share any prior knowledge. I got all of that and more, being accepted into a wonderful group of people that all have similar interests and want to give back to the local public. My favorite times within this program have been when I am at the duck pond. Having a display of artifacts that genuinely interest people gives them a chance to ask questions and interact. Even though a lot has changed due to covid, I am glad that I’m still able to help out in any way that I can. Through open hours and online projects, I’m able to learn new skills such as communication and writing. I love meeting new people and seeing children, and adults, get excited about our environment.

—- Madeleine Chen, EV Teen Docent

Tejas enjoying his passion for biking.

Hi! My name is Tejas Thiyagarajan and I’m a sophomore at Gunn High School. I’ve been with the Environmental Volunteers (EV) for about one year as a teen docent and I’ve enjoyed the experience tremendously. About a year ago, I was running in the Palo Alto Baylands when I noticed the oddly shaped building that is the EcoCenter. This building caught my eye and I was curious about what it was. So, when I got home, I went online and found the EV. As I dug deeper into their website, I saw all the amazing things that the EV was doing. Naturally, when I found that I could volunteer at the EV, I was thrilled. A few weeks later, I stood at the training for the EV where I didn’t know anyone. During my first few weeks at the EV, I had the privilege of being welcomed into the EV family with open arms and was amazed at the amount of dedication, grit, and passion the EV community had. The EV, despite the tough year, adapted to continue educating the public about nature. I am proud to be a part of this mission and look forward to the events to come.

Tejas Thiyagarajan, EV Teen Docent

Danielle enjoying some time in nature

    I first learned about the EV’s Teen Docent Program when I was searching for environmental volunteer opportunities and landed on their website. They stood out to me because of their educational approach towards conservation, which I believe is more impactful than hosting a beach clean up or tree planting event. Although these activities have great impacts, teaching others how to preserve nature seemed like a more long term solution to environmental issues. As a Teen Docent volunteer I discovered a variety of skills and knowledge from individual projects and online seminars, both of which gave me valuable insight into the environmental field.  

    By doing online home projects and attending nature related video calls, I was able to develop practical skills and gain environmental knowledge. Since a majority of the projects I was assigned were online, I was able to research different environmental organizations on different levels, like college groups, community organizations or national associations. I also got to know the different environmental groups in my own community as well as the different missions each of them had. With projects that involved working with the EV’s educational materials, I uncovered a wide spectrum of nature facts about bird adaptations, energy sources, California’s habitats, and etc. 

The pandemic didn’t stop the EV from teaching us about conservation and nature, as online video seminars worked well to accommodate sheltering in place. I attended a watershed video conference with other EV volunteers where I was able to learn where rainwater collects on the earth’s surface. The host had us do a fun activity of crumpling paper, marking its folds and crevices, and dripping water over it to track the “rainwater’s” path from higher ground to its collection point. I loved how even though we weren’t in the same room, we were still able to do the same activity together. 

    Being a teen docent for the EV has given me both knowledge and experience that I can bring to future jobs, college classes, and daily life. I can’t wait to see what future teen docents will accomplish in the coming years! 

-Danielle Lowe, EV Teen Docent

The EV is currently taking applications for it 2021-2022 teen docent cohort. This program is a great way to expand your knowledge or interest in the environment, education, or gain experience for a potential career.