For Karli Robertson, VYCC Offers Alternative to Virtual Learning

November 20, 2020 | AmeriCorps, Conservation, Corps Member, Farm

After a virtual spring semester, Karli joined a summer crew. She is working on a dual major in Sustainability and Drama, and saw the Parks Restoration Crew as an opportunity to gain skills for building theater sets. This fall, she stayed on to complete a session on a farm crew instead of returning to school for another virtual semester.

More than half of the members participating on VYCC fall crews have delayed or suspended their studies because of COVID. They find virtual learning less effective, isolating, and say it leads to too much sedentary indoor time.

Are these young adults sitting home? No way. Karli and many of her peers are actively seeking opportunities to work, learn, and contribute. Karli joined VYCC “to get down in the dirt, connect with the earth and with people.” She shared that, “It feels really good to be doing work that helps people access nature and helps provide people with food.”

Karli reports she has learned a great deal about construction, food production, leadership and communication. VYCC has allowed her to “work, be outside, and have important conversations about current events with coworkers. All those things have helped me cope with it all. I acknowledge the immense privilege I have to be in Vermont, to be safe and to be paid during the pandemic and being able to learn.”

Many young adults are approaching consequential decisions about school, work, health, and finances with creativity and optimism. Is it stressful? Absolutely. Yet, young adults are rising to the moment. They are simultaneously helping others and making progress on their own path.

Karli is asking hard and important questions: “Am I rushing my education to get a degree?….to do what? Should I keep learning outside the classroom?” She recognizes college has plenty to offer and enjoys her studies. Her tentative plan is to go back to school in the spring, though she doesn’t know yet if classes will be in-person.

Karli is one of 150 young adults to learn, serve and grow with VYCC this year. They have connected 415 households with Health Care Shares, and completed 42 conservation projects that improve resiliency of Vermont’s public lands.

Karli says, “I’ve appreciated everything I’ve learned with VYCC. It’s been a solid work experience, team experience, and skill building experience in carpentry and farming. I’m able to try to take on life asking ‘how can I learn?’ The lessons will reveal themselves to me as time goes on.”