Photos and article by Lynn Janes

al1Internships Displays

On May 8, 2024, Aldo Leopold Charter School held the end of the semester showcase for the internships that some of the students participated in and the YCC (Youth Conservation Corp) groups.

Each semester the students that participated with internships and the YCC give presentations. The school believes that students learn best by doing and having direct experience. Some of the students work with a local business as an intern and had displays that explained the job, what they did, and what they learned. Others join one of the YCC groups, eco monitoring, garden crew, trail crew or mural crew.

al2One of the Internships Displays

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) started in 1933 and eventually came to the present YCC organization. They employ students 14-25 years of age. Each crew prepared a slide presentation of what they had done and how it had enriched them. The students also spoke about the experience and what they had learned.

al3Eco Monitoring Crew Left to right – Maya Reeves, Angelio Muniz, Aubrey Huerta, Asa Wecks, Devyn Preast, Ethan Hemphill, and Lila Knadler

The eco-monitoring crew worked on several projects and gathered data on the natural world. Mike Fugagli serves as the supervisor and mentor for this crew. The crew has continued to work at the Iron Bridge near Cliff planting willows and checking water quality. This year they worked with some elementary students to teach them what they had been doing. At San Vicente Farms they planted trees and did stream restoration.

The eco-monitoring crew also spends time in the Gila National Forest identifying birds and learning about the ecosystems. They said they had learned the value of hard work, collaboration and working with the community. They had visited the New Earth Project and learned about the bio activators in a composting system.

al4Garden Crew Left to right – Makayla Jaurequi, Damien (Madisyn) Montez, Zahara Gantz, Mia Riley, Antonio (Tony) Mendoza, Ronan Euler, and Emma Smith

Aaron Meyers served as the leader and mentor of the garden crew. The students have continued to work on the rock garden next to the school, Gough Park and the Waterworks building. They also worked on a new project—the median on 10th Street. The green house renovation continued, and they learned about the upkeep and irrigation to keep it up.al5Trail Crew Left to right - Toxtli Sanchez, Andrew Sanchez, Junior Casaus (back), Gabrianna Serna, Violet Leadbetter, Jonathon Murillo, Dominick Vega, Nico Sherwood (back), Dominic Rasmussen, Preston Hotchkiss

The trails crew is mentored and lead by Toxtli Sanchez. The community partners they worked with included WNMU (Western New Mexico University), Waterworks and Botanical Garden near the Big Ditch. They have also continued the work on the garden at the school. The students went over what they had learned. Some of the skills they mentioned included following directions, being flexible and trusting each other.

The YCC program teaches the students what they call the four Cs. Each presentation they addressed the ways this had been used. The four Cs stand for Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking and Creativity. Each crew had used these principals to address everything they did to be successful with the projects they took on. Their presentation counts towards their grade. Catalina Claussen, internship and YCC coordinator said the presentations from the students counted as their final and would be 20 percent of their grade.

The school developed out of the community wanting to provide a choice to the area's students. The mission statement of the school, the human and natural environments serve as a text and lab for learning through direct experience, inquiry, and stewardship.

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