Out West student blog

Getting the Best of Both Worlds

Theo goes for a hike in their free time. (Photo credit: Theo Bamberger)

By Theo Bamberger '21 

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Major: Earth Systems
Stewardship Team Leader, Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN)




After spending the majority of my senior year attending classes from my older brother’s childhood bedroom, even the thought of working in-person in the outdoors was incredibly attractive. I had occupied my Fall and Winter with heavy course loads with the goal of spending my “Senior Spring” finishing my thesis and counting down the days until Commencement, so my Spring quarter was already cleared of all commitments that might otherwise stop me from taking on an internship opportunity. When the KEEN internship posting appeared, it seemed like the perfect way for me to round out my time at Stanford. I would get to start applying the knowledge of environmental science and education I had gained in my classes and research work, and I would get to do so in Washington, where I’ll be attending graduate school next year. When it was determined that the internship would have to be virtual, I’ll admit I was a little disheartened, but in the end I’ve gotten the best of both worlds. 


This quarter, I’ve gotten to see how an environmental education organization like KEEN works from the inside, develop new skills like writing curriculum for a place-based environmental science program, and make connections to people who share my passion for environmental education all while living on campus and having the kinds of “Senior Spring” experiences I had once imagined for myself like fountain hopping with friends, playing with the LSJUMB again, and taking walks around Lake Lag. Aside from having my cake and eating it too, I know the work I’ve done with KEEN this quarter will be an important foundation for my future career in environmental education. In particular, helping plan and write curriculum for KEEN’s fourth-grade field trip has been an excellent opportunity to support KEEN and build a skill that will be extremely important to have. It is definitely a challenge to write place-based lessons for a place I have never visited, but I’m lucky to have incredible support and partnership from KEEN’s Environmental Education Director, who has put a lot of trust in my ability to get the job done and supplied me with all the resources to do it. In a way, this has also been a full-circle experience for me, as the program I am helping plan mirrors the program that first sparked my interest in environmental science. I’m grateful to have the chance to bring the kind of experience I had to other students, as that is one of the fundamental reasons I am pursuing education. As I approach graduate school, working with KEEN is helping give me a head start on a lot of what I will be focusing on for the next two years, an opportunity I am thankful to have been given. Although it hasn’t looked like what I originally pictured, working with KEEN has still been a great way to end my time at Stanford, and I look forward to getting to connect with them in person someday soon!


Read more at the Out West Student Blog »


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