After five inspiring and challenging years, we will be concluding the Maker VISTA program in Fall 2018. To celebrate the impact of this work, we’ve asked our amazing Maker VISTA members to reflect on their experiences and accomplishments this school year. Each of our VISTA members, working at various partner sites nationwide, came to this program with different perspectives, and focused on different projects—yet they all remain connected by a commitment to service and community.
In this post, Trina Lafata, a VISTA member who recently completed her year serving at ReCreate, shares more about how she, and the youth and educators she served, have been affected by maker-centered learning and capacity building.
Everyone I told was in awe that I was taking such a big risk: moving across the country, from Massachusetts to California, not knowing anyone, to be a Maker VISTA. I can honestly say this was a fantastic decision. Personally, it has forced me to move out of my comfort zone to meet new people and try new things. Plus, I have had the opportunity to explore California, from big trips traveling to places like San Francisco, San Diego, and Yosemite, to smaller excursions exploring my local community via morning yoga in the park and gathering the best fruits and veggies at farmers markets.
Furthermore, the Maker VISTA program has been incredible for my professional life as well. I entered the program as a recent college graduate with a degree in Environmental Engineering. I had decided that engineering was not fit for me, but was not yet sure what I wanted to do instead. The experience I have had with this program has taught me more than I could ever imagine, and I know now I would like to pursue a career in Maker Education.
Furthermore, I have learned the ins and outs of how a nonprofit functions. ReCreate is a reuse center and makespace that delivers STEAM-based hands-on learning experiences and materials to schools. Between outreach and co-facilitating maker learning experiences in classrooms, afterschool programs, and at various maker night programs and more hosted at ReCreate, I learned how to use a variety of different tools and materials, including (though definitely not limited to) 3D printers, Makey Makeys, and Birdbrain Technologies, along with my personal favorite, the laser cutter. I like the laser cutter because it is the simplest yet most efficient tool at ReCreate. It can cut and engrave all kinds of materials such as woods, acrylic, leather, cardboard, and much more. Though the application of these tools varied, it continues to amaze me how much can be made from nothing.
I have had the opportunity to create and improve STEAM curriculum, connect ReCreate with the community, and manage the Maker Ambassadors at ReCreate. Yet, it is still surprising to realize that I have reached over 4,000 students delivering hands-on maker education, and I hope that I have made a positive impact in their lives. The Maker VISTA Program has been tremendous, and I loved being part of ReCreate’s team!
Trina’s dedication and efforts have made a lasting impact on the capacity building of ReCreate’s Maker Education program. She has been an integral part of our education team, helping us create and improve curriculum, streamline processes for our programs and events, and further develop our high school leadership program – Maker Ambassadors. Trina helped us build community relationships and secure local financial support for our program. Trina worked with us to deliver hands-on maker experiences for elementary and middle school students, community events and after school enrichment reaching over 4,500 young makers (with countless kids exclaiming, “This is the best day ever!”). We will be forever thankful for Trina’s year of service, and the positive impact she made not only for ReCreate, but also for her invaluable impact on the positive trajectory in the lives of the students she touched.”
-Donna Sangwin, Founder / Executive Director of ReCreate & Maker VISTA Supervisor
I can say without hesitation that the AmeriCorps Maker VISTA program has played a key role in the success of our GeniusMobile, Mobile Maker Program @ ReCreate. As Director of Curriculum I have had the pleasure of working with our AmeriCorps Maker VISTA, Trina. She has been my right and left hand many times, as we have developed, refined, and implemented our program for in-school and after-school K-8 students.”
– Amy Griffin, Director of Curriculum at ReCreate
This blog post is part of a series celebrating the accomplishments of our fifth and final Maker VISTA program season. We hope you enjoy reading them all!