May 20, 2021
I’m originally from Michigan. I was an English major, and now I’m running a science non-profit. I fell in love early on with the idea of a residential environmental education center, so in 1998 I helped to co-found The Ecology School.
When we think about learning, there’s a misconception that learning has to be serious. I had a background in improv theater and I love acting. When I was teaching, I got to bring goofy humor into the classroom, and discovered that when done right, if people are laughing while they’re learning they'll retain more.
So, at The Ecology School, we have fun learning environmental science and sustainability. We are able to connect active living and learning together. The people who come here enjoy meals together and spend time together in the dorms. That creates a holistic approach to learning new concepts which in turn fosters building community. The purpose of all of this is joyful, living and learning.
My maternal grandmother, Norma, inspired my love for ecosystems and the environment. Her guidance was instrumental in developing my passion for stewardship. Not all kids have a Norma… so it’s imperative to recognize the inspiration leaders here: the educators are mentors. They open students' eyes to possibility and being outside more, igniting our connection to nature and community. When we hear reflections from past students like Addie Burman and Ryan Fecteau, and the positive memories of their experience they've carried with them through adolescence and adulthood, we know we’re doing the right thing and making a lasting impact.
The Ecology School is so unique because the world is our classroom. You can only learn so much inside four walls of the classroom. We really focus on a bigger understanding of ecosystems and how they connect. When we are outside exploring tidal pools and forests, we’re given permission to be curious and find opportunity in different ways.
We are eternally grateful to every supporter who has helped us acquire our own home at River Bend Farm. It’s opened up the opportunity for year round programming while also allowing us to become a community resource. We’re becoming nationally known now, and there are so many unique things that enable us to be a good steward of the land.
We strive to continue to be a model of a better way forward combining learning, living and of course joy and laughter along the way.
- Drew Dumsch, President & CEO, The Ecology School