Never, Ever Give Up

Written by Katie Schober
    Thursday, 02 March 2017
Never, Ever Give Up

In mid-January, during those grand days of winter when we actually had snow on the ground, I learned the value of taking chances through the determination of an 8th grade girl.

It was a chilly day, but I had discovered the previous week that students cannot wait to be outside, even on the coldest of days.

One student caught my attention as we walked out to the bus. She told me that it was her first trip to the Urban Ecology Center, her first winter in Wisconsin, and how excited she was for her first opportunity to explore snow. Little did she know, her class was about to go cross-country skiing.

Despite all of the initial excitement, cross-country skiing started out anything but smoothly for this winter novice. We struggled to find her well-fitting ski boots and poles. But for her, figuring out the skiing part was tougher. We practiced footwork and keeping balance, but alas, she spent more time in the snow than she had expected.

I checked in and gave her a few words of encouragement as we trekked toward Miller Park. Gathering her footing to continue on after a stumble, she responded: “A fall does not bother me, I’m going to get it.” She radiated the determination with which she overcame initial skiing mishaps.

After a while, part of the class headed in to visit our animal room, warm up, and rest after using unfamiliar leg muscles. Not this student! It was tough to convince her to go inside once her practicing paid off and she was sliding through the snow, forging new paths.

Her favorite part of skiing was speeding down an incline before we went inside. But my favorite parts of the trip were seeing how open she was to learning new techniques and trying again, the ear to ear smile on her face when she found her groove and losing track of the number of times she said, “This is AMAZING!”

The joy this student experienced from leaving behind doubts and practicing a new skill with unwavering spirit encouraged me to look at what is holding me back from seeking novel experiences, be it self-consciousness or fear of failing. She continues to inspire me to shake off the ease of comfort and familiarity in order to visit new spaces and learn about positive work that is being done to build community in Milwaukee.

Photo Credit: Chris vonBriesen
Katie Schober

Katie Schober

During Katie’s first experience at the Urban Ecology Center, she stumbled through her own cross-country skiing for beginners class. After bringing high school groups to visit the Center over a few years, she is thrilled to be an Environmental Educator at the Menomonee Valley branch and to be able to work with students of many ages. Outside of exploring the many seasons of the Valley, she enjoys biking around Milwaukee, learning freshwater systems, and salsa dancing.

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