Opting outside

February 18, 2019

GreenCorps Member Tillery Bailey helps students develop an interest in the natural world at Cedar Creek.

Tillery Bailey knows the importance of an aha moment. Studying engineering her first two years as a University of Minnesota student, an internship working at a company that makes harddrives the summer after her sophomore year helped her come to a career-changing revelation.

“I was looking forward to working there because I like learning how things work and work together, but I realized that I would never be passionate about it,” says Bailey. “I really like working with people, getting away from my desk and being outside.”

This realization helped Bailey move from a major in engineering to recreation administration. After internships through local recreation departments and the National Park Service, she now serves as a Minnesota GreenCorps program member at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve providing assistance with the field station’s education and outreach programming. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency coordinates the GreenCorps program across Minnesota, placing AmeriCorps members with local organizations as a way to encourage preservation of state’s environment and train future environmentalists.

Tillery Bailey

“She's been developing and delivering curriculum for our in-school programs, planning new summer camp options, assisting in our monthly homeschool programs, and crafting new community learning opportunities,” says Caitlin Potter, Cedar Creek’s education and community engagement coordinator. “She is a keen observer and note-taker, and phenomenal at suggesting tweaks to existing programs and putting them into practice.”

For Bailey, these experiences are more than helping her gain experience in ecological and outdoor-based education. It’s in these programs and interactions with students and the broader public that she finds her passion in helping other people find their own moments of revelation.

“You see how it clicks for kids when they realize that their actions impact what’s going on in public lands but also their backyard,” says Bailey. “When you’re either hosting a program at Cedar Creek or going into a school and seeing that moment where a kid really gets something or is able to take it to the next level it is incredibly rewarding.” -Lance Janssen