Words to Learn By

“This experience has the potential to change your life.”

This August, Teton Science Schools bid farewell to 22 AmeriCorps members who spent their summers here, immersed in Field Education. Right on their heels, we welcomed 12 new members into the TSS family. This seasonal changing of the guard always brings a burst of new energy to the Field Education team.

New members join us three times a year from across the country, ready to share their unique life experiences, ask probing questions, present new perspectives, add their ideas and passion to the momentum of Field Education, and ultimately, change the lives of the participants they interact with.

“Never turn down the chance to challenge yourself.”

“Embrace diversity in students, learning styles, anything! Learn from it.”

A tradition stands for the outgoing AmeriCorps members to write letters of advice to the incoming cohort. This August, letter writing took place on summer members’ final day of service. Tucked away in an aspen stand at the back of Coyote Canyon, summer members thoughtfully elaborated on the best places in town to go dancing (the Cowboy Bar) or to find an affordable dinner (Thai Me Up). Foundational to nearly all of their letters was this advice: You are in charge of your own experience, and you will have to take control of your own learning to influence the outcome you desire. You cannot be a passive participant. In fact, nothing about dedicating three to five months of your life to service is passive.

“Pinky G’s has the best pizza and is open until 2am.”

“Go to dinner, if not for the food, then for the advice from your peers.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Over the past six years, 240 AmeriCorps members have completed a combined total of over 100,000 hours of service at TSS and 37 partner organizations in the greater Jackson community. While members’ impact on our local community can be measured through their hours of service and number of projects completed, the overall energy they pour into this place – all the exploration and learning that they jam into three to five months – is immeasurable.

“Live and work passionately.”

“Take advantage of this community. Let it inspire you!”

Letters from the summer crew were read at the start of this month, as the new cohort settled into Coyote Canyon for the first time and began to consider the marks they would leave behind and the advice they themselves might pass on to the next crew.

“Be open to unexpectedly challenging experiences.”

“You are capable of so much.”

Not only did the summer letters convey good advice for incoming members, confronted with the complexity of a totally new place, but they provide excellent reminders to all of us to be active participants in our own journeys and our own learning. Thank you to members past and present for your incredible service, and for helping all of us learn and re-learn these lessons with each season’s change.

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