By Dana LeVan
Hi, a quick introduction about me. My name is Dana LeVan and I am a double Major in Music Education and Spanish at Augustana University. I was born and raised near Sioux Falls and I am currently a Naturalist Intern at The Outdoor Campus. Despite growing up in a suburb of Sioux Falls, I was not too familiar with the Outdoor Campus before this summer. Spending just three months working here, I have learned more about the outdoors than in my entire life growing up.
Quite frankly, the extent of my outdoor education in my earlier years was camping with my older siblings and Dad (cooking s’mores and going fishing occasionally). Before my summer Internship here at The Outdoor Campus, it was my dad who introduced me to all things nature. He was the one that got my family and I excited about spending time outside, camping, and enjoying time with one another. My dad was really passionate about hunting too and he was excited for me to get older so he could take me out in the field. When I got to a comfortable age to start seriously participating in these endeavors, my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer and then sadly passed away about a year later. For a while, my love for the outdoors was put on pause, and I found new passions that filled my life (i.e. music and theater).
The day I received an email from Augustana letting me know about summer job opportunities, my friends were surprised by my strong interest in teaching this summer at The Outdoor Campus. But for me, I was looking forward to learning a new set of skills for myself, as well as gain real teaching experience; so I decided to apply. Lo and behold, I was interviewed and offered a job for the summer, teaching outdoor skills and conservation to a variety of ages.
Deciding to apply for this job is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my college career. My Outdoor Campus co-workers and I work together every day to carry out the mission here,
“To provide education about outdoor skills, wildlife, and conservation and management practices of South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks to all ages in order to preserve our outdoor heritage.”
Dancing because I love outdoor cooking!
I was one of those people who did not utilize my resources growing up to learn about wildlife and outdoor activities, so now, it is such an honor to provide an outdoor education to people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so, (before this summer, this included me). I have a better understanding of how important it is to have an outdoor education and I have grown to have so much pride for South Dakota, a place I have called home for 20 years. I watch The Outdoor Campus live out its mission every day in my own life alongside all of those who learn and grow here too.
Fixing fishing poles with my co-workers/ friends
As you can see the Outdoor Campus has helped my grandma be more outdoorsy too 😉
This job has given me a community of co-workers and friends who support each other as we develop in our professional skills and as individuals. Thank you to all of those involved here at TOC, who help me and the students like me gain memories and important life skills. To my co-workers: You may not often be aware of what you do or perhaps you don’t think other people notice your support, but they do, and it is always appreciated.
My wonderful TOC co-workers and I.