conservation. sustainability. prison labor and training.

indianpaint

from prison sus­tain­abil­ity project an blog arti­cle my first two months work­ing at spp

I can say with con­fi­dence that work­ing with inmates is not what it sounds like at all. Inmates are just peo­ple like you and me, peo­ple that have been down on their luck for one rea­son or another, peo­ple that are pay­ing their dues to soci­ety and try­ing to make the best out of their sit­u­a­tion. The major­ity of the inmates we work with are there because they want to get involved in some­thing mean­ing­ful, or because they have a pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence in nurs­ery work, or are just try­ing to make some money and escape the rou­tine of prison. But what­ever brought them to us, I try to make it a good expe­ri­ence for them, get them involved in our work and help them under­stand the big pic­ture of what we do and why we do it. It is easy to lose focus and inter­est in what they are doing when they spend a long time just sow­ing and not think­ing about how help­ful and mean­ing­ful their job is. Lec­tures about sci­ence, ecol­ogy, and restora­tion tech­niques are a good way to keep them excited and engaged. The last lec­ture they had was about sci­ence and reli­gion, and believe me, it was amaz­ing hear­ing what they already knew of the sub­ject and the dis­cus­sion that fol­lowed. We had the same lec­ture as part of my Master’s pro­gram, yet the dis­cus­sion they had was far more cap­ti­vat­ing than the one in my class. Most of the offend­ers truly appre­ci­ate when we describe the eco­log­i­cal con­text of what they are doing because it helps them under­stand the impact of their labor and see how it fits into the big­ger pic­ture of conservation.