Jesse8868At ECOLIFE Conservation, interns don’t just scan documents or make coffee. We are part of exciting opportunities that that make a difference in the community. ECOLIFE interns and staff share passion for sustainability and it fills my soul to bring this energy to San Diego youth.

Growing up in San Jose, I had the privilege of joining the city’s Youth Science Institute (YSI) in a community known as Alum Rock Park. The memory of this unique project-based learning opportunity allowed me to gain knowledge about the biology of our native wildlife in their natural habitat. I was able to understand the material I was studying while applying it to our scientific findings within the park, which left a lasting impact on my life.

Through my positive experience with YSI, I saw the power of hands-on learning at this level of scientific inquiry through an outdoor lab. This insight showed me the importance of caring for the environment while sparking my interest in conservation and sustainability.

Jesse8866Through this powerful realization, I now value the importance of a quality education and opportunities that comprehensive programs can bring. As an Aquaponics Educational Intern, I am creating a positive impact in which students will learn from for years to come. Just as our motto states, we are “Planting the Seeds of Innovation” to empower students as future leaders and farmers to create the path for humanity to walk a greener future.

When looking for an organization that shared my passion for education, technology, and sustainability; my research led me to ECOLIFE Conservation in Escondido. My beginnings at ECOLIFE started through a collaboration with the California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and their Service Learning Program.

I am finishing my degree at CSUSM in Geography and Sustainable Development with the intent of working in education and sustainability. Through ECOLIFE, I have gained a new perspective on how schools nationwide collaborate with organizations to bring an interactive curriculum into the classroom. I have enjoyed working with local K-12 school districts, while also continuing to develop partnerships with other organizations who share similar views for sustainability.

Jesse8847Since I began my apprenticeship at ECOLIFE, I have been exposed to multiple aspects of education and sustainability. From attending school workshops, to sitting in the local San Diego radio show ‘The Green Machine’, to building an aquaponic ECO-Garden at Patrick Henry High School, and helping out at outreach events – this position exposes one to many aspects of working for a non-profit organization.

By restoring life to forgotten school spaces, we empower youth to implement a new technology, and create educational opportunities for students that would not be possible due to our extensive drought in California. Witnessing our efforts grow into fruitful outcomes is a very empowering feeling as we continue to have positive impacts on the educational experiences of the students involved.

As a student who aspires to continue my career in education and sustainability, ECOLIFE has provided me with my own hands-on learning experience through our community projects. Although the life of a full-time student can be unpredictable and fast-paced, ECOLIFE has given me flexible hours to ensure my success in both school and my internship.

12615328_10154729096182281_610122992045745627_o (1)Each day I feel inspired to work with Aquaponics Educational Manager, Kait Cole who portrays an energetic and colorful personality filled with passion for the program. In addition, working with a group of individuals who are dedicated to their work is incredibly uplifting and encouraging. The staff is made up of devoted nonprofit professionals filled with invaluable knowledge and experience.

Coming into ECOLIFE, I was looking to inspire students in their efforts of sustainability and conservation, and surprisingly enough, I found myself to be inspired by the raw talent and passion of team members and students. Sharing this enthusiasm for sustainability and education has made my time with ECOLIFE a valuable experience I will never forget!

By: Jesse Grajeda