Name: Ian Statema

Graduation Year: 2020

Education: Outdoor Education

Current Hometown: Ithaca, NY

Ian currently works as a nature instructor at Primitive Pursuits and as a beekeeper at HoneyRock Farm. Outside of work, he likes to wander the woods and get crafty with basketry and leatherworking.

Ian is sitting streamside and stripping inner bark from cedar. He is wearing a bandana on his head and a COVID-19 face protection

Can you tell us about your current work? In my work as a nature instructor I work with a wide age range of youth in preschool, homeschool, and afterschool programs at Primitive Pursuits. Some of the overarching elements of my work involve helping youth to build a connection with the natural world and helping them solve interpersonal conflicts. My days are often filled with exploring the woods, having fun playing games, teaching skills, and building fires. With the bees, I do a variety of jobs: extracted honey and bottled it, performed hive checks, performed splits, and any other jobs around the farm.

How did Sterling influence your current career path? Sterling influenced my work by building up a passion for the natural world and giving me a strong work ethic. I think that Sterling also taught me to be flexible with what I am doing and to be willing to try something new. I also gained a passion for building up skills through hands on experience.

How easily did you find work post graduation? I found work fairly quickly, I started at Primitive Pursuits during the summer program and then moved into the homeschool program. I had known about the program previously but applied after seeing a list of outdoor education opportunities that was shared with me from Sterling.

What does ecological thinking and action mean to you and how does it show up in your life post-Sterling? To me ecological thinking and action means looking at what you do and questioning its impacts both on a local scale and a global scale. This shows up often in my work and personal life. With my work with youth, these ideas come in often when we talk about the land we are on and how it takes people to take care of and protect the land. I hope that teaching kids to think about the impacts of their actions will help to lead larger change as they bring the ideas home and into the future.

What is your most memorable “out in the field” story? I think my most memorable field story was while working with a group of children teaching fire building. Many of the kids were fairly new to lighting matches so being able to watch them learn over the week was amazing. One of my favorite parts of this was when they started to mentor each other. By the end of the week they were all able to light a match and as a group built an amazing fire which we used to cook popcorn over. Being able to watch someone struggle with a skill and work on it until it clicks is a very special moment that I am so grateful to be able to help facilitate.

Any words of wisdom for current Sterling students?

  • Follow your passions no matter where they lie.
  • Push your comfort zones, be that in taking a class that is outside of your major or try a new skill. You won’t know what you can do if you don’t try.
  • Be present and give it your all. You never know who is watching and what doors that might open for you.

Filed Under: Alumni Blog