In our fourth year hosting an intern from the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA), we welcomed Fisayo Bashorun to the SAHC team to work with our Communications and Community Farm staff. Fisayo is passionate about photography and aspires to serve at the state level of NC government. “I heard of CAYLA through a teacher,” she shares. “The teacher had witnessed my eagerness to get involved in the community and felt this would be a great program for me to jump right in.”
“I first heard of conservation when I was in elementary school,” she says. “They basically boiled conservation down to planting trees and not littering. I went from third grade to twelfth believing that that’s what conservation was all about; I never littered and I always planted a tree on Arbor Day. My family — being from Nigeria, a country that had to deal with poverty, lack of clean water, and corrupt government — did not discuss the idea of conservation very much. In fact, it wasn’t discussed at all. My parents’ idea of conservation was to not litter and to not step on flowers. I didn’t discover more about conservation until my senior year.”
“Around the age of 16, I decided to change majors from Psychology to Political Science,” she continues. “My rationale was that as a politician I would be able to do more for communities. I decided one of my main priorities would be the environment. As someone who lives on planet Earth, it is part of my duty to protect the planet. Unfortunately, I was a tad ignorant in the environmental field; I still had a hazy definition of conservation and only basic knowledge of environmental science. So, I took up the task of educating myself on the topic of conservation and other environmental literacy terms. I soon realized that programs and internships are great ways to ‘dip my toe’ in the WNC pool.”
Fisayo’s responsibilities with SAHC this summer included assisting with and taking photos during group hikes, SAHC events, and workshops at our Community Farm. She worked with Tamia Dame, another SAHC summer intern, to host a table at the North Asheville Tailgate Market. Fisayo also recorded and edited a series of short video segments which will be used in creating a virtual tour of our Community Farm.
As a CAYLA intern, Fisayo attended the annual Asheville Me2We Youth Leadership Conference. This conference, organized by various local youth organizations, is a two-day event which focuses on leadership and social justice education for middle and high schoolers of diverse backgrounds. This year SAHC and other environmental organizations were invited to host tables at the conference to talk with youth about conservation work and opportunities to get involved.
Me2We is a powerful tool for youth to network with one another, event leaders, and organizations to broaden their horizons and build valuable relationships. “The topics discussed at Me2We were all topics I was aware of, but I like that the community took the initiative to further educate youth on how these topics pertain to their lives,” Fisayo remarks about her experience at the conference.
“Learning about conservation has been a journey for me,” she concludes. “I’ve gone from the eager third grader ready to plant all the trees in the world to the final year community college student ready to learn about the true impact of conservation. It is important for us as a society to be environmentally literate, and I plan to use that knowledge towards my future political career.”