An Unforgettable Experience: Reflecting on Two Years as a Fellow at Audubon Mid-Atlantic

In the past two years, I have established a deep connection between Audubon Mid-Atlantic at the Discovery Center and four schools in Philadelphia, three of which are in Strawberry Mansion, the neighborhood where the Discovery Center lies. When I started as a fellow, we had established connections with two schools, one of those being in Strawberry Mansion. In this role, I have created the opportunity for Audubon to increase their engagement in their target neighborhood threefold. 

I have just completed my last week of lessons for this school year. This marks the second full year of lessons for the Community Partnership School, John B. Kelly School, and Dr. Ethel Allen School. This also marks the first full year of lessons at Edward Gideon School, a connection I made with alumni fellow Gregory Wright ‘13. 

These past two years have seen me grow into a more confident educator and birder, as well as a leader.

I created four lesson plans per school year, for a total of 8 lesson plans. However, in teaching five to six grades at each school, I tailored each of these lessons to each grade level based on their curriculum and learning levels. These lesson plans can now be used by Audubon Mid-Atlantic for any future lessons, whether I or another educator is teaching them. 

I have taught every class of every grade, kindergarten through fifth grade at two schools, and every class of every grade, pre-K through fifth grade at the other two schools. Each class received four lessons in a row from me, allowing us to create a lesson arc that I believe achieved my goal in my last update of “fostering a love of nature as well as a care for the environment while getting students excited about science.” I have had conversations with many administrators and educators about the transition from myself into the next fellow, and while many were disappointed that ‘Ms. Sophie’ would not be returning in the same capacity, they were excited that the program would go on. 

This summer, I will be taking on the role of Senior Coordinator for Conservation Education at Audubon Mid-Atlantic and I look forward to growing within the organization. One of the most exciting aspects of staying on at Audubon is the chance to see the program I piloted grow and change as the next FAO Schwarz Fellow steps into the role. It was a joy for me to be part of the hiring process for the next fellow and I look forward to mentoring officially through the Foundation as well as through my new role at Audubon. 

As we move into the summer months and the last month of my fellowship shifts away from school programs and into field trips and summer programs, I look both back on my experience as a fellow and forward to my upcoming experience as an alumni mentor and my role at Audubon. 

These past two years have seen me grow into a more confident educator and birder, as well as a leader. I look forward to continuing to grow as I move beyond the FAO Schwarz Fellowship, but I will take with me the wonderful connections that I have made and the support I have received from the fellowship community.

Picture of Sophie Becker-Klein

Sophie Becker-Klein

Sophie Becker-Klein (she/her) is an FAO Schwarz Fellow at Audubon Mid-Atlantic's Discovery Center in Philadelphia.