Biocitizen is so pleased to welcome Samuel Rode to the Our Place Summerschool senior staff!
Samuel is a W Mass native (Heath) who attends the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst, majoring in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Conservation. An avid trail runner, rock climber, hiker, kayaker, and skier, he’s worked as a camp counselor, zip line guide, raft guide, and photographer in addition to working at ski resorts, on trail crews, and on both oyster and blueberry farms. We are looking forward to the care and attention he’ll give our students, as he uses his experience with us to develop his teaching skills and prepare a career as an environmental studies teacher.
As a child I cared little for the outdoors. I spent the greater portion of my days in front of a screen, obsessed with cartoon characters and the latest video game installment. Today I am a dual major in Environmental Science and Natural Resource Conservation and view a day indoors as a day wasted.
For me, the shift from environmentally aloof to reading Edward Abbey atop a mountain was a slow one – but it all began with simply getting outside. As I ran track and cross country in high school, I became personally invested in the trails and woods of Western Massachusetts; I watched firsthand as the forests changed from year to year, mourning the clearing of acres or the posting of “No Trespassing” signs as one would a dear friend. I firmly believe that it is impossible to instill any degree of concern in a subject people do not feel connected with and it is precisely for that reason that I make continual efforts to bring screen and desk-bound people out into the woods and wilderness.
The more I have learned in the classroom, the greater my desire has been to share that which I have learned. In more recent years I often find it difficult to separate time spent outside with time teaching; friends of mine have endured countless lectures on forest disturbances, rock formations, the names of plant species, the threats posed by invasive species, and a variety of topics while simply hoping to go for a quiet run, hike, or climb. While serving as a zipline guide, guests would ask simple questions about local fauna and receive answers of startling length and depth. Those who sign up for trips I lead through the UMass Outing Club can expect a full explanation of the geologic and ecological factors that produced the range we find ourselves in, whether solicited or not.
As a Biocitizen teacher, I will carry with me this desire to educate on the processes of the natural world, obvious and subtle, which make human and other life possible. Through my formal education and recreational experiences, I will be able to instruct on a wide range of skills, beyond the standard classroom comprehension and supplemented by the skills necessary for multi-day backpacking, technical rock climbing, and a variety of water sports.