At Taylor, Sustainable Development majors build a foundational understanding of how the spheres of sustainability—environment, economics, and society—impact each other. Studying the breadth of these subjects allows students to develop a holistic understanding of key issues facing humanity and the environment.
Alumna Rachel Weikart ’21 uses her Taylor liberal arts education and Sustainable Development degree in her position at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, at an overnight and day camp “specializing in outdoor programs and environmental education for youth, adults and families.” Weikart receives graduate school credits in her role of Environmental Education Fellow as she teaches local kids about the environment.
Finding a Passion for the Environment and People
Prior to her senior year of high school, Weikart experienced a rough patch in her personal life that challenged her sense of self and the direction she was heading. She found the solution to her loneliness at Spring Hill day camp the summer before her freshman year of college.
At Spring Hill, Weikart found a group of supportive friends who encouraged her on her educational path, and from then on, she desired to share this same love of God and the environment with others.
“My mission since that summer has always been to show people the love that God has for them even when they don’t always feel it themselves,” Weikart said. “I want to be that constant reminder that God loves you even though things are hard. I’ve been through that phase where things were really hard, but it will get better eventually even if it feels like it’s never going to actually get there.”
While completing her senior capstone, Weikart focused on how to combine environmental science and sustainability with public school education. Her professor, Department Co-Chair and Professor of Geology & Environmental Science, Dr. Michael Guebert, talked with Weikart about schools she could work at to continue to explore this connection. After a few Google searches, she found Eagle Bluff and applied.
Now at Eagle Bluff, Weikart shares her love for creation with kids from both urban and rural areas, teaching them about the importance of caring for the environment. This love grew through her classes at Taylor, and now she shares it with others.
“In terms of the environmental science aspect of it, I want to teach the general appreciation for the outdoors and understanding the intentionality of how everything can be created,” Weikart said. “You can also see God and see how interwoven and beautiful the world is, that’s a consistent theme.”
Heading to the Hills
Eagle Bluff is an overnight and day camp situated in the rolling hills of southeast Minnesota, currently in their outdoor school season, Weikart wakes up early with her co-leaders to prepare her classes with a mix of indoor and outdoor learning. Weikart combines naturalist education with outdoor experience to teach kids who may not have a faith background about creation, even if she does not mention God specifically in the secular classroom.
Her job allows her to mix her love for environment and sustainable development with her background in ministry, where Weikart finds the greatest impact on the kids she works with. These classes helped Weikart to discover her authentic self.
“This job has reminded me of how funny kids are because you get in a pattern, in a routine, with them, and eventually a kid will say something to you, and you’re like, ‘Where in the world did that come from ?’” Weikart said. “They keep you on your toes, and they’re always so funny.”
Season of Doubt
Prior to her acceptance to the position, Weikart went through a period of doubt, believing she was unqualified for the job because she received rejection emails from multiple camps. Just when Weikart began to give up, she opened her email and saw the letter of acceptance from Eagle Bluff.
Weikart saw this as evidence of God’s faithfulness to her, and affirmation that she did had the necessary skills to succeed in her desired field. She felt confirmation that the wait was worth it.
“This job is better than any other job I could see myself in,” Weikart said. “I remember looking through job descriptions feeling like nothing fit my passion. I found Eagle Bluff and thought, ‘That just sounds awesome, that’s what I want to do.’ And it took a lot of work to get there. Every time I’ve had to take a step that didn’t feel like where I was supposed to be, it’s always worked out. I’m learning to take those giant steps of faith and trust things are going to be okay.”
Weikart is still figuring out where she wants to go after her year at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center is over, but she believes her education, both there and at Taylor, has prepared her for whatever career path she chooses.
Weikart sees how God used her love for missions, her experience as a Personnel Assistant in her residence hall, and her passion for environmental education all combine in her current position. She views this as His continued faithfulness; because if God is calling her to it, it’s going to work out in the end.
“Trust the process—you have no idea what’s in store for you,” Weikart advises. “When you hear that for the first time, it’s going to sound scary and you’re not going to know what that means. But it’s going to all work out in the end. Trusting the process means you’re going to come out of this a stronger person, and you’re going to end up somewhere where you didn’t even think was possible. And that’s okay, because you’re going to be happy.”