Former Intern Reflects on the “Joys and Discoveries” of Internship at Green Chimneys

January 31, 2023

Green Chimneys Founder Samuel B. Ross, Jr. with Akane and llama, December 2012.

Growing up in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan, nature and animals were always been a part of Akane Yamamoto’s life. As a young adult, Akane decided to pursue an internship that would enable her to fuse her passion for the natural world with a keen interest in education. After completing an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies and Political Science from the University of Vermont, Akane spent nine months as an intern at Green Chimneys. Recently, we asked Akane to share reflections from her time here.

It has been more than a decade since your internship placement at Green Chimneys. What takeaway, moment, or specific experience do you find yourself reflecting on still?

Akane: My life at Green Chimneys with other interns from all over the world was filled with joy and discoveries. We always talked about animals, students, and food! The most important thing Green Chimneys taught me is that if you have a dream school in your mind; it is possible to build that school. The students, the animals, and the staff at Green Chimneys introduced me to a new style of school.

Akane, third from right, with fellow interns and cow Paddy on a snowy day, 2012.

How did your internship at Green Chimneys influence or inform your career?

Akane: My farm internship at Green Chimneys was my first time working at school (and farm!). It told me the importance of the school as a community, supporting child development by respecting every individual, and with the joy of teaching. After returning to Japan, I joined the Teach For Japan program as a teaching fellow. I am pretty sure that I would not be on this path without my nine months at Green Chimneys. I am grateful for this precious opportunity.

Akane’s journey continues …

Fellow former interns Adrea Makandrou from Germany recently visit Akane in New York City.

Today, Akane is a Fulbright scholar pursuing a Master’s degree in Developmental Psychology at Teacher’s College, Columbia University in New York City. Akane is also combining her passions for the environment and education while working as an Assistant Teacher at the Hollingworth Preschool. She enjoys tapping into nature to engage preschoolers and support their development in creative ways. One class learned the word “rescue” from a lesson based on an injured squirrel Akane helped care for during her internship. Akane continues to stay connected to the Green Chimneys community, too. Former intern Andrea Makandreou (left) from Austria, recently visited Akane in New York.

We look forward to celebrating Akane, and all of our former interns, as they continue on their career paths.

The Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Global Internship program at Green Chimneys draws individuals from around the world who seek opportunities to work with children, animals, and the environment for educational, therapeutic, and recreational benefits. Each intern gains hands-on experience and builds skills while also participating in training sessions and mentorship. Learn more