Emily Turner

“We cannot care for what we do not know or see. To be an engaged citizen of the natural world, we must first learn the art of seeing.”

For me, the natural world is more than a field of study: it is my heritage and a way of life. I was raised on a hardscrabble hill in northern Vermont. Harvesting fiddleheads and spring greens for my mother was an important seasonal chore. My father gave me a compass for my eighth birthday and promptly got me lost in the woods, testing my ability to find my way home. I have spent the last two decades finding my way. I have slept under the stars as many nights as under a roof. I have learned that I am home on the land, wherever in the world I might find myself. This has been the single most formative experience of my education.

To be an engaged citizen of the natural world, we must first learn the art of seeing. We cannot care for what we do not know or see. We must be more than objective observers. We must be interested in more than identifying the collection of species that make up a natural community. Who lives in this forest? Why? What is the story of the chipmunk, the beech tree, the bear? Where do these stories weave together? How does my presence in this forest change these interactions? What is my responsibility?

Our culture often pits us against The Great Outdoors. As Naturalists, we learn to be comfortable with stillness, with a slower pace, with small marvels. The campus is an integrated extension of High Mowing’s classroom. Seniors studying the Transcendentalists find inspiration for their own nature journals while seated on the stone wall at the top of Frye Field. Observation and inquiry are a direct application of the natural sciences. Students develop practical skills as they take care of the school’s forest and trails.

Each external lesson is reflected within the students, and a sense of place leads to a deeper sense of self. Learning to navigate with a map and compass is a practical skill, but the larger metaphors of discovery, exploration, and self-reliance are not far down the trail. The lessons are real and provide enduring experiences: the study of ecology is rooted in the Greek words ‘oikos,’ or home, and ‘logia,’ the study of. Through the study of our ecosystem, we discover the interconnectedness of all things, and we find ourselves at home in the world.

There is a burning authenticity in these students, something I have been searching for since my own high school education. Now I am thankful to be immersed in this community, where traditions reflect the school’s commitment to the values that are a part of its history. I am inspired by the faculty’s vision for a curriculum that is not bound by convention, but strives to meet the students of today. This is education I believe in, education I wish to be a part of.

Trinity Guildhall College, UK, ACTL with distinction (performing arts degree)
Emerson College, UK, Foundation Studies
Center for Anthroposophy Waldorf High School Teacher Training, Certificate, in progress
Fosen Folk School, Norway
Registered Maine Guide