Written by: David Milliken, Campus Director
As we entered 2020 to begin the second century of the Hutton Settlement we certainly didn’t consider a global pandemic that would force us into significant life adjustments. With an absence of volunteers, campus visitors, large celebratory events, and frequent community engagements our staff and mostly teenage population had to adapt and endure by moving deeper into campus life. As formal educational opportunities shifted to Zoom and other virtual methods, we soon realized the importance of hands-on, experiential learning to keep our kids active and engaged. Our sustainability and leadership education program, SALUTE, was primed to make this happen!
In 2018, SALUTE aligned with the National Geographic Society’s geographical literacy initiatives to support the nurturing of engaged global citizenship among youth. National Geographic provided training and a clear learning framework that assisted us in fostering the development of the attitudes, skills and knowledge needed for youth to thrive in today’s expanded world. With a global pandemic and the world largely shut down, we did not pause, but took the opportunity to deepen these transformative learning efforts.
So how did we do it?
First, three staff members became Certified National Geographic Educators. Secondly, we took National Geographic’s recommendations for necessary out-of-school experiences to include, 1) place-based education, 2) outdoor learning, 3) cultural exchange, and, 4) community service. We took these focus areas and organized our existing and emerging SALUTE activities into them. Throughout our year’s exploration, place-based education took shape with the formation of our youth farm education club and newly-planted garden and orchard. Outdoor learning took shape with our wilderness outings, naturalist education, and the building of a forest yurt on site. Cultural awareness took place with our seasonal expeditions visiting local indigenous sites and communities in the Pacific Northwest and our renovated cultural arts room on site. Finally, our community service took shape with meal and drink preparation and delivery in the downtown and West Central neighborhoods to assist those with food insecurity.
This year brought us obstacles and together we turned them into opportunities! As the new year looms, we are excited to venture forth into a more engaged and robust campus education experience with a standardized learning framework and ambitious young explorers who seek to explore their value and place in our beautiful world.