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May 15 2016
by Zoe Plumb

6 Things I Learned at Vocational High School

By Zoe Plumb - May 15 2016
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While high school is a pretty steep learning curve for everyone, vocational high school taught me so much about myself, my likes, and what I want to do versus what I would have learned at a traditional high school. 

1. A Sense of Direction

Walking in the woods tends to allow people to find a sense of direction when they are scared that they have gotten lost, but another sense of direction was where I wanted to go in life. I found a sense of direction while chipping tree's and reading Walden. Being able to explore what I loved in a vocational high school enabled me to find out where I wanted to go in life and what I wanted to become as a person. 

2. How to speak up for myself.

When I entered high school, I was terrified of everyone, and I was incredibly shy. However, now that I'm graduating I have no issue standing up for myself and being able to tell teachers when they incorrectly graded me. And I put a lot of that down to my vocational classes. Being stubborn and being loud in the arbor garage or in the engine shop is so important because people can't hear you. Being female in a male dominated industry means that you have to put yourself out there and show that you do know how to do things. The teachers all helped me to grow as a person and have me be able to speak up for myself and defend my opinion. There wasn't a lot of judgement and my peers were trying to establish themselves in the industry as well.

3. Vocational Skills

I don't know about traditional high schools, but learning how to climb trees, limb walk, and cut down trees don't seem like a Spanish class thing to do. I learned so many skills that are valuable in my growth as a person. I learned how to solve issues on the fly, without any proper training. When climbing knots get stuck with tree sap and you can't move, you have to learn how to fix the knot while your in the tree. I learned how to halter a cow, weld a rose, and make a gazebo. The skills can't be taught from a book, and I am forever grateful for those skills and teaching me how to fix issues instantly. 

4. Perform under pressure

Alright, all jokes aside, performing in a state competition and trying to get the most points for your team is kinda hard. As a sophomore, junior, and senior I was able to participate in the FFA Massachusetts State Competition for Natural Resources. This competition, and other FFA contests, taught me to work hard for my team, and to quickly learn what I needed to do. I was able to finally place in the top 10 (7th if you were curious) in the state and I wouldn't have been able to do that without the agricultural education on plants, invasive species, animals, and general equipment needed. It's easy to learn how to do something from a book, but putting it into practice, and competing with these skills take another level of effort.

5. How to back down

Going to a school with boys who love their trucks more than life teaches you several things. One: don't touch their trucks. Two: they will always defend people if someone is out of line and Three: when you're wrong, admit it. 

Being able to admit that you are wrong is an incredibly important skill and going to a school where your peers are so in love with their major that they know everything backwards and forwards teaches you to take advice, admit when you are wrong, and find a passion

6. What passion truly looks like outside of the classroom

I have never seen anyone so happy than when a friend who loves to climb is able to work in a tree. Some people love engines, some love plants, and others love animals. But seeing them work in their field of passion is a unique experience. They get so much work done with love and care for the field that they are almost untouchable.  I never thought that I would find a passion for anything, but eventually, I found a passion for environmental science through my agricultural classes and one very wise man. 


I would never give up anything in the world for what I learned in vocational high school, even if it means going to my dream school. A passion for the environment is well worth not taking Spanish for four years. 

As a wise old man once said, "You can be as intelligent as you want, but until you find a passion you will never know knowledge."




Lead image credit; Zoe Plumb  

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Zoe Plumb - Roger Williams University

Zoe is a freshman at Roger Williams University and is majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Sustainability Studies and International Relations! You can follow her on instagram @hopetheygiveyouhell or on tumblr at nicenotesandprettycolours

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