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Youth Environmental Education: Getting Students Curious About the World Around Them

An interview with Zhareen Bulalacao, LEAD Coordinator and Adventure Guide in Los Angeles

Meet one of our passionate staff members in Los Angeles, Zhareen Bulalacao. Get to know why she loves working with our youth below!

Where are you from and how did you end up at arc?

I was raised in a small town called Summerville in South Carolina. I received a Bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences (with an emphasis on Geochemistry) from UC Santa Barbara. For five years, I worked as a field/lab scientist in a soil laboratory, but I wanted a job giving back to my community while still being active in an environmental cause and working in the outdoors. arc reached out to me and I was hired as a guide. I was trained by the adventure staff and moved into a coordinating position.

What do you do at arc?

I am a Guide and LEAD Coordinator. I lead outdoor programs and I coordinate the logistics of outdoor programs. As a guide, I like to provide cultural history and environmental facts about locations, as well as teaching students best practices for their activity at hand. As a coordinator, I provide the best people for the best trips. I enjoy doing both and I am happy to work with people who love what they do.

What do you love most about working with youth?

I encourage students teaching students. I love seeing students share what they learned and turn it into something that is meaningful to them.

“I love my guide team. I love the dedication and enthusiasm they have for outdoor education and empowering youth.”

What has been one of your most inspiring, coolest, or fulfilling moments while working for arc?

My most fulfilling moment was taking Bright Star Secondary students on a 3-day camping trip in July 2016. We spent one of those hot summer days swimming in the cool, clear, and shallow Merced River in the Yosemite Valley. I learned so much about them. I got a chance give them an outdoor education experience by answering their questions about where the water was coming from and why it was so cold. I was amazed with their inquisitive conversations about the landscape and was impressed how easily they can explain it all to each other.

While in Yosemite we hiked up a more challenging and steeper trail. I noticed most of the kids were looking down at the ground, feeling exhausted. I told them, “If you keep staring at the ground, you’ll never know what you’re missing up here.” I didn’t realize how metaphorical that quote was to them until one of the students gave me a shout out at the end of the trip about “keeping their head up, when things get hard.”

What do you love most about working at arc?

I love my guide team. I love the dedication and enthusiasm they have for outdoor education and empowering youth.


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