Introducing Aubrie Howard
A native of Fryeburg, Maine and graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, Aubrie earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism, with a minor in Peace and Reconciliation Studies.
Following graduation, she joined an AmeriCorps service team, working with Montana Legal Services helping low income people gain access to civil legal aid. That experience, she said, is where she learned that she wanted a career that would allow her to help people in need.
“For awhile I was a Wilderness Therapy Guide out in Montana working with at-risk youth and for the past two years I have deepened my work with youth by being a social-emotional, outdoor educator in the Midcoast, Maine area. This job also had an in-school component that allowed me to implement a social/emotional learning component into the classroom. In-between I have worked five seasons for the Appalachian Mountain Club in their backcountry huts, and I have also been a ski patroller and a baker.”
Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately depending on your point of view - when the pandemic hit, her work as an outdoor educator came to a sudden halt, leaving her lost and a little confused about what to do next.
“As the weather got warmer,” she said, “my partner, Josh, and I wanted to find a place where we could feel connected to a community and, hopefully, give something back. So, we ended up WWOOFing this spring with farmers throughout Vermont. (WWOOF = World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). We learned a lot about Vermont from the farmers we worked with and it seemed like a caring and community-oriented state to live in. In-between farms we gave ourselves a socially distanced driving tour up route 100, which convinced us that Vermont is where we wanted to stay.”
As far as her work at OSSD is concerned, Aubrie is looking forward to working with students to help them better understand the changing world around them.
“Right now, “ she said, “students of all ages need adults to show them empathy. So many feel disconnected not only from one another, but from themselves. There is a lot happening in our country and in our state, and elementary school aged students often feel frustrated and confused about COVID, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+, climate change and more. We all need to slow down, take time to listen, and make sure our students feel heard.”
“We need to give kids the opportunity to make mistakes, so that they can learn and grow together. This can be done by having outdoor mask breaks, creating a space for intentional, facilitated conversations and being present. I am currently working on creating some socially-distant team-building activities, having outdoor lunch bunch groups with small groups of students, adding more social-emotional learning into the classroom and incorporating DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) lessons into the classroom space. This is such a wonderful age group to work with, and there’s so much we can do to give them a sense of connectedness and understanding of the world around them.”
And as for her personal goals this year: “Well,” she said, “I never learned how to whistle. But I’m hoping someday to conquer this skill.”