SPP Evaluations Internship Experience
by SPP Undergraduate Intern Jaal Mann
Editor’s Note: Jaal is one of three stellar Evergreen undergraduates who have been working with SPP during the spring quarter. He has been an intern for not one but TWO (related!) SPP programs: evaluations and prairie plant conservation. This week, he writes about the world of survey analysis and lecture-based environmental education.
As an undergraduate intern with the Sustainability in Prison Project for the last 10 weeks, there has been a lot to learn. I have spent much of my time analyzing the survey responses from the lecture series in the prisons, and it has been fascinating and inspiring to see some of the positive feedback that the inmates return.
Inmates learned about the benefits of shopping locally and pledged to do so in the future after attending a lecture about organic agriculture. After a lecture on energy use and biofuels, they learned how biofuels could play a role in solving energy problems and “would love to see [biofuels] to be used by our farming communities to operate their equipment.”
The lecture series is able to reach a much broader inmate population than the frog, butterfly, or native plant projects. It is SPP’s hope that this wide variety of inmates attending sustainability lectures will take home a different view of the subject of the lecture and of the overall subject of everyday sustainability.
Many of these lectures have left inmates with lasting lifelong information and skills, such as how to use natural herbs to treat illnesses, that “not just herbicides will kill plants”, and “to be mindful of what goes down the drain.”
Evaluation of effectiveness is a complex subject, but so far it is evident that not only knowledge-based responses are improving through lectures, but attitudes about the subjects and sustainability as well.
While our evaluation techniques are still being improved, when we hear that attendees have learned “about the importance of balance needed between our use of land, care for land and the value of butterflies to the balances needed,” and that “the world is way more complicated than I ever thought,” it definitely helps us know that we must be doing something right.
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