My participation in Eco Practicum has been gaining momentum from the moment I stepped foot onto the grounds of Camp Shomria for Eco Practicum Catskills in 2012. I completed the full four-week program, and after I’d left the idyllic grounds, the encouraging learning environment and (let’s be real) the baby goats, I entered a bit of a slump. I felt like the program was calling me to act - I just didn’t know how.
That summer I came up with my own highly personal answer, a process I’m sure each and every Eco Practicum alum has had to undergo. I decided that my route, the course of action that felt most like, well, action was to stay involved with the program itself, to continue engaging with it and to help it generate impact on the community around it in the same ways it had impacted me. Almost four years later, I’m still here.
As someone who participated in the program shortly after its inception, I’ve watched it grow and develop in ways that allow it to better serve those who support it, and to adapt to a changing world. What began as just a four-week Catskills program has expanded into an equally necessary and engaging New York City practicum, has spawned fantastic partnerships with Good Food Jobs and Our Name is Farm, with many more exciting announcements waiting in the wings. My own role at Eco Practicum has been through just as much flux as the program itself - I’ve been a participant, an intern, a sometimes-photographer, a nanny for Eugenia and Tal’s incredible two-year-old (my favorite role so far?) and here I am now, as a Program Director.
As this new role and this new year begin, I have a lot to look forward to. I’m looking forward to surprising myself - this is the biggest leadership role I’ve had to date and I’m excited to rise to the challenges it presents. I’m looking forward to engaging with the New York City and Catskills communities in new ways, bringing on new partners in addition to the old, and seeing another generation of participants get as inspired by our curriculum as I did a few years ago.
Eco Practicum has given me an unbelievable amount of knowledge, confidence, support, and excitement, and it’s my turn to imbue those same qualities back into the program tenfold.
- Rachelle Klapheke