What exactly is an apprenticeship or internship? Our Blue Skye Farm Internship follows the philosophy of the Washington State Farm Internship Project, but acccording to Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship graduate and Virginia Tech Ph.D. candidate Lorien MacAuley as addressed in her master’s thesis entitled A Mixed Methods Study of On-Farm Apprenticeship Learning in Virginia:
“An apprentice is an adult learner, who is a novice, who learns on the job and receives direction from a master. Apprenticeships are typically defined as programs of study that involve some length of time, often one to three years, working under an expert in a particular art, trade, or craft, receiving instruction on-the-job, and potentially incorporating some structured lessons (Gray & Herr, 1998). However, I use this term in a much more theoretical way to describe an indentured novice learner who works alongside, pitches in, observes and interacts with an expert/master, and thus knowledge transfers from expert to novice to ultimately lead the novice to mastery in a given set of skills and knowledge (Paradise & Rogoff, 2009). In much of industry, including farming, this concept can also be applied to the term ‘intern’ as engaged in an ‘internship.’ According to Jones (1999), on-farm apprenticeship programs may often use the term internship due to strict legal definitions regarding apprenticeships. However, this study seeks to engage the discourse on apprenticeship learning discussed by Lave (1988), Rogoff (1990), and Vygotsky (Schunk, 2012). Hence, the use of the term ‘apprentice’ is used synonymously with ’intern,’ and ‘apprenticeship’ is used synonymously with ‘internship.’ This may also include work for pay, often staying residentially (on the farm) during their indenture, as long as the above Paradise and Rogoff’s definition still holds true, and an express arrangement exists that the (farmer) educator will teach the novice apprentice (how to farm). The phenomenon of interest in this study is the mode of learning.”
Do your summer apprenticeships require 7 days a week attendance? Are there any days off scheduled or allowed for personal or family days? There is usually one day per weekend off, usually on a Saturday, but otherwise, it’s a 24/7 experience. Click on the Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship or the Blue Skye Farm Internship and scroll down to the schedule section for a very detailed answer to this question.
What supplies or gear are required? Check out our Summer Expeditions Packing List and request access to the Backcountry Leadership Training gear list which is all you’ll need during the summer such as good waterproof hiking boots, large backpack, camping stove, tent, etc. A smart phone is pretty important, and we recommend a laptop for using Google Drive documents. Finally, you may want to purchase various books and other resources for your studies, but we do provide the minimal basics.
Are there any other costs that are foreseeable? Can you meet my dietary restrictions? Wilderness First Aid Certification is required, so be sure to budget an additional $200 to get that before arriving, or as part of your first couple weeks with us on years when we sponsor a course. You’ll also have to take care of your own health insurance, travel to/from us, and food/entertainment during vacation days if you miss our daily meals. Some big eaters and those on special diets do purchase additional food, however. Otherwise, we endeavor to serve all reasonable dietary needs.
What are summertime living quarters like? Most of the summer, however, you will be camping in wilderness areas as well as state park “group campgrounds” where we run our weekly camps. When you first arrive, you will be staying here in Puyallup, as well as over some weekends during the summer. Our historic 1901 farmhouse which was Kim’s grandparent’s home is now our office and is currently undergoing renovations for the first time since 1950. You may share the upstairs rooms with other apprentices, or stay at near-by staff homes during off duty times.
What’s it like living “in community” and can we get some alone time? What are the emotional challenges of “transient living” as we move from location to location all summer? Living with others is a challenge throughout life. You need to take responsibility to schedule at least a half hour alone and away from the constant activity of summer life here. But generally, being happy in community means finding the healthy balance between our own narcissim and codependency. Living together means sharing responsibility for maintenance of all common facilities as well as your own shelter space (usually tent under tarp in the summer, or in a yurt or cabin in the fall-spring) just like if you were renting a house elsewhere and needing to spend time cleaning, etc. However, it is much more efficient to live in a community like this where you are taking turns cooking, cleaning, recycling, shopping, organizing supplies, caretaking farm animals, etc., rather than having to do all that on your own, and thereby leaving more time for your studies. As for transient living, it can sometimes be hard to feel grounded, but then again, summertime is the best season to move around. Transitions are the biggest frustration, especially for those who don’t feel organized and tend to lose things, and for those who are super organize who always have to wait for those who are ready last. But that’s what we train people to get good at here: as a matter of fact, transitions are the riskiest moments in outdoor education, so we work every summer to get better and better at them, always addressing the FAF Factor. Blog entries, making foods from scratch, maintenance checks and first aid drills can also take up some time, and they are important aspects of your learning program.
What are your pet peeves and bottom-line rules at Blue Skye Farm and Wolf Camp? Over the years, those who took seriously their Responsibilities of Community Living (such as drug policy, social courtesy, and focus on work-study) have been most successful. The most important responsibilities while enrolled in the apprenticeship programs include: pouring your greatest effort into learning these skills; maintaining relatively professional hygiene (including appearance and smell of body, hair and clothes) and behavior (including the very same agreements which youth campers must uphold during camps and contracts guaranteeing the physical and emotional safety of all participants – see youth camp pages to read these agreements – obvious exceptions include provisions for couples, for example) throughout the summer youth camp season; remaining free of drugs (including alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and illicits) during the youth camp season; never harboring any illegal items, people or behavior on or in the vicinity of Wolf Camp; never having participated in child abuse or workplace sexual misconduct, nor having any impulse to do so; not unfairly discriminating against anyone based on color, ethnicity, origin, sex, sexual orientation, religious preference, or handicap; and performing in a professional, safe manner to help make Wolf Camp the most excellent outdoor educational program possible.
At the end of the apprenticeship do you get certified or do you have to do additional schooling for that? If so do you offer that next step? Currently, we offer a certificate to all apprentices who finish the summer, and certification to those who either 1) pass evaluations in mid September, 2) complete Wolf Journey field exercises during the off-season, or 3) return the following summer to work and complete loose-ends. However, please note that we are also undergoing accreditation by the Washington State Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board, and arranging college credits with a national university for those who want to add that option for additional fees. Until those steps are accomplished, your certification will only be as good as our reputation without accreditation. None of these certification or credit steps are necessary to be hired onto our staff, nor do they impede our work toward helping you get hired or established elsewhere.
What is the potential for work upon graduating from the Blue Skye Farm Internship or Earth Skills Teaching Apprenticeship? Nearly everyone who completes a summer with us is hired the following year, or gets a stellar job in the field elsewhere. That said, potential for future work as a lead instructor will depend on our enrollment levels, your progress on improving your earth skills, the number of camps for which you assisted in the past, your previous education and work experience, and our assessment of your teaching skills. Remember, the teaching apprenticeship is designed for people who really want to share these skills with others in the near future. Beyond the training period, you will be learning the skills vicariously while on the job, and ultimately, it is up to you to practice on your own during the off-season to become accomplished in these earth skills, although you may enroll in any of our academic year courses as well.
We’re looking forward to receiving your application, but feel free to call or email us so we can clarify any questions you have. There is so very much to gain and to give in this program, so we’re looking forward to sharing it with you. – Chris & Kim