Youth Today – My Job – Ryan Plantz

Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center/Public Allies

Estes Park, Colo.
(970) 586-0600

Age: 25.

Salary: Stipend of about $18,000 a year.

My Organization: Eagle Rock School is a tuition-free residential high school that serves students ages 15 to 21 from across the country who have not found success in a conventional school. Eagle Rock School’s educational model focuses on outdoor education, experiential learning and community service. Students come from all races, religions and backgrounds. The school also functions as a training center for education professionals, who staff the six houses (16 residents in each) in the school “village.”

My Job: Plantz, one of 12 Public Allies fellows at the school, describes his job as multifaceted. “With regard to the Public Allies aspect, the fellow group works to develop leadership skills through professional development, trainings, weekly seminars and development of a team service project,” Plantz said.

“I co-teach a service-based civics class in which students complete internships at local businesses and organizations. As the Service Learning fellow, I facilitate Eagle Rock’s all-school service days and plan projects like Earth Fest, an environmental and community-focused convention. As part of the residential community, I participate in many of the same activities as the students: We eat meals together, attend morning gatherings, complete daily chores, participate in intramurals and take part in community meetings.”

How I Got Here: Plantz received his bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from the University of Wisconsin. His youth work experience includes spending two years as a high school track and cross country coach in Madison, Wis., and serving last year as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the I Have a Dream Foundation of Boulder County, Colo., a dropout prevention and college preparatory program serving low-income students.

Best Part of My Job: “One of the best parts is that my job doesn’t feel like a job, and I am doing something that I am passionate about,” Plantz said. “Eagle Rock allows me the opportunity to constantly learn and grow as a teacher and a person. But in the end, it’s the students that make my job great – they continually amaze me.”

Worst Part of My Job: “The long hours can be difficult. Eagle Rock has very high expectations of its fellows, and the nature of a residential school is demanding, with respect to the time commitment and energy needed to meet the students’ and community’s needs,” Plantz said.

Memorable Moment: “It’s impossible to single one moment out. Each time I get a big smile and a hug, it makes my day,” he said.