This summer, we are featuring reflections from recent Eco Practicum alumni about the most moving things they experienced in the program. Maheteme Kebede is from Ethiopia and is currently finishing up his studies in the United States. Open, enthusiastic, and charismatic, Maheteme brought his infectious laugh and thoughtful critique to bare on the many topics we covered throughout the month.
Describe an ah-ha moment you had during the practicum. What was the trigger, what did you learn, and how did it change what you had previously thought to be true?
My “ah-ha” moment came about when we went to visit Root ‘n’ Roost farm for the first time and were given a tour of the facilities. I was amazed by the design and by how much thought was put into every single aspect of the farm. From the animal and plant species they worked with, to the landscape, the water flow and all-round energy transfer around their property, everything was there to minimize waste and increase productivity of the land they have. I felt like a professor was giving me an amazing lecture about everything from Botany, Zoology, Architecture, Genetics and many more fields in science. It was after this tour that I seriously contemplated going into agriculture to learn as much as I can about working with the environment and ultimately, I want my career to focus on sustainability and renewable energy. I am definitely looking forward to going back to the area and working with one of the farms to get some valuable experience.
Eco practicum allowed me to learn more about myself more than anything else. It changed how I view my environment as a whole. I am now a vegetarian who went from being unsettled by insects and arachnids to looking forward to studying just how invaluable they are. It was good to see just how much I like to learn about my environment first hand without the stressful and motivational factor of earning a grade from a teacher. Most of my educational career consisted of being in classrooms and having to listen to other people teach what they have read and learned about. Being able to get the practical experience from Eco Practicum showed me what I would want to do as a career and just how I would want to lead my life and interact with the environment we are all responsible for. I saw what my strengths and weaknesses are and I was motivated to actually work on improving. The motivation was not for a grade or a pat in the back but to better myself and make a better impact in my community.
I was always under the impression that being very skilled in one field is the most plausible way to have a big impact in this world. From the people I met with Eco Practicum and the places we visited, I saw that being well rounded and willing to act has more of an impact in society than just trying to be the best at one thing and being sectioned off from the environment we live in. I will definitely strive to learn as much as possible about my environment as a whole and be driven to always serve my community.
- Maheteme Kebede
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