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CAUSE & EFFECT: The Field Trip for Good

CAUSE & EFFECT: The Field Trip for Good

“Do you have any travel plans this summer?”

This is one of my favorite questions to ask friends and colleagues as I am fascinated by other people’s journeys. It doesn’t matter if it is a staycation here in beautiful Southwest Florida or an exotic trip across the globe, there is something about spending a bit of time out of our normal element that sparks curiosity and wonder. I enjoy hearing both the pending plans side of the trip as well as the recap at excursion’s end

As another solstice officially winds down and kids are back in school, I have heard stories of vacations to secluded beach houses on Upper Captiva, a trek to Glacier National Park in Montana, sabbaticals in mountain cabins, family reunions all over the country and rite of passage trips to Europe. I never get tired of asking the question because I am always interested in the answers which take the form of stories. I wish we still all wrote essays on what we did on our summer vacation and posted them on a blog or website.

I think this wanderlust begins early in life with the school field trip. When I was a kid field trips were a great way to get out of the classroom and see, touch and experience things in our proverbial backyard. Fieldtrips used to be much more expansive and untethered than they are today but many nonprofits and school foundations still work with school systems to make these opportunities available to students.

The goal is exposure and experiential learning. It is one thing to read about an ocean and a whole other thing to actually see one and understand how important it is to protect it for the future.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Southwest Florida Community Foundation was the destination for a fieldtrip. This one didn’t include permission slips, packed lunches and a bus load of school aged kids, but rather some fellow baby boomers who scheduled a meeting.

In my role at the Foundation I have a lot of interesting meetings with people in our community, but no one has ever showed up and announced that they were on an official field trip.

They came equipped with cameras and a list of pre considered questions. This frame transformed our small conference room into a point of interest and a meeting to field work. I could not have been more excited.

The contingency was made up of four people. Two who had spent their lives and careers here and two who had recently moved to the area. The experts in residence had been arranging a variety of field trips to introduce their newbie friends to all the area has to offer- and we made the list!

They didn’t come to see the offices, but rather learn more about the nonprofit and philanthropic landscape in Southwest Florida and to gain insights on how they could become more involved in creating change in the community.

I was able to share the generous nature of our region and the work the Foundation is doing to cultivate collaboration, collect data on community issues, create open tables for conversation and the plans for our new space in the renovated Atlantic Coast Rail Depot in downtown Fort Myers- which we call the Collaboratory (now that sounds like a cool place for a field trip)

But like most great field trips the conversation was not one sided. I learned of their lives in healthcare and broadcasting. One adventurer has launched a nonprofit and the others shared life experiences that had influenced their desire to give back and live generously.

Although it was their field trip I felt as though I was on the journey with them. That is the beauty of community building- We bring our personal passion and purpose to the process yet we need each other to create results and the change we want to see in the world. You don’t have to travel far to learn that lesson.

I would love to hear how your travels and field trips near and far have influenced your life and how you give. Share your stories at [email protected] If you are ready to start a charitable journey we can help with that as well, just give us a call and we will schedule your fieldtrip!

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More