Christine DeVito '11

A Classroom Without Walls

In the suburbs of Windsor, Connecticut – Christine DeVito’s hometown – there is a local park called Nature Camp. As a kid looking for something to do, Christine would hop on her bike for the short ride to the park, where she would spend time enjoying the outdoors. This innocent childhood activity started her on a path to a deep appreciation for nature, and she hasn’t looked back since.

“I think it was all of those bike rides to the park that led me in this direction,” Christine says. “It really became my second home.”

Her interest in Nature Camp also landed her in the first of many leadership positions – junior camp counselor. “I realized early that I was drawn to various community service positions,” she says. One was a training program called Police Explorer for teens interested in learning what the life of a law enforcement officer is like.

“It’s kind of like a rent-a-cop,” she says half-jokingly. “I know it’s kind of dorky, but I love it. I was a shy kid for a while and doing stuff like this really allowed me to break out of my shell. I don’t know where it came from exactly, but I just stuck with the feeling,” says Christine. “I wouldn’t know who I am without it—it’s shaped me in a lot of ways.”

As she grew up, Christine began to develop a more detailed picture of her life goals and the steps she needed to take to get there. She tested and experimented before she found her path.

“Growing up, my dream job was to be a scientist—once I took AP Biology in high-school I started to reconsider,” she laughs. “Once I came to Green Mountain, I majored in environmental studies, but found that it was missing something. I realized later it was the thrill of outdoor recreation combined with the flexibility of liberal arts education.”

GMC offered Christine a chance to design her own focus by pursuing the interdisciplinary studies major, focusing in education and outdoor recreation. “A lot of people think of education majors as people who will end up lecturing in a classroom, but I don’t see it this way. I want to teach in a classroom without walls, where we’re soaking up the knowledge within our natural environment by actively exploring it,” she says.

Christine, a junior, is learning about the distinction between a conventional academic approach and hands-on experience as she balances being a full-time student—where she is a research assistant to Prof. Teresa Coker (education) as they evaluate the environmental education models and strategies of various eco-league affiliates—with volunteering for the Poultney Fire Department. But Christine isn’t through seeking thrills, even if it means accepting more responsibility. She hopes that this type of volunteer work will prepare her for her ultimate goal: “working in one of the National Parks as an outdoor leader.”

By Chad Skiles '12

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