I'm a 17 year old girl in central California seeking a way to potentially spend a gap year working on permaculture projects. I have completed one residential PDC at Quail Springs in Cuyama Valley (2012) and spent the last several years leading a permaculture initiative at my high school (building a food forest, permaculture education, and designing a future permaculture academy at the school). Our success at school means we're currently offering an on-campus PDCclass (yay!), so I'll be competing my second PDC through that this spring. I have pretty extensive experience in community building and sustainable agriculture projects in our area, from landscape design to sustainable food festivals. I'm also a diploma candidate in the International Baccalaureate program, a highly rigorous, global-oriented academic program which my school offers. I am a top candidate academically for a high-powered college, but am looking to decompress and recalibrate my compass with a year or semester off before I start at a university. (My top college choices are Yale, Cornell, and UC Berkeley at the moment, in landscape architecture/environmental studies.)
I am interested in finding a place to grow my skills as a designer, and as a conscious citizen, through ideally working on a permaculture-oriented project. At this stage I am more than open to whatever options come my way. I would be deeply appreciative if anyone in this mycelial network would share whatever opportunities are available. I am fearful my experience in the university system will deprive me of the chance to work on permaculture, and am hopeful I can scratch that itch in the short term by taking a gap year.
*I should add that, although many students choose to take a gap year because they didn't thrive academically in high school, this isn't my case. On the contrary, I just am burnt out from not getting to do the work I'm pulled to. Thus, I don't need to be in a position where I'm in a 'class' or receiving college-transferrable credits.
Check out the permaculture.org.au site. It's headed up by PRI Australia and Geoff Lawton. There's a searchable map of people and projects worldwide and another section about wwoofing and internships. (plenty within the USA) Only PDC grads can become members so the people are the real deal. Somewhere in there you should be able to find what you're after....or more than one! A year's tour of several sites in different climates and cultures might be within reach of your ambition....That said, there's a lot to be said for spending a full cycle of seasons at one site, to learn the deeper lessons that only this can show.....
BTW it's the searchable map that will be most useful to you, unless you want to go to Australia. That's where the woofing, internship, and course info is focused on that site. Also check out permacultureactivist.net....
There is a TV show called gap year, or something to that effect, that is coming up. They follow kids around who are doing something interesting for the year between highschool and college. I think the OP wants us to come up with an idea so he can get on television. I say we support him! Make permies.com famous.
If I'm wrong about this being for TV, please forgive my imprudence. Here are some ideas, surely others have better.
Setting up a big keyline swale through your neighborhood (or other neighborhood) would be interesting because you would go through tons of peoples different yards and dig the trench, meet them, explain it to them. They might even help you, and it would be good for their soil and drainage problems. A complex problem, with all the roads and roofs though.
Make a bunch of seed balls and do a ton of guerilla gardening in detroit, a bad neighborhood where you're from, or the lawn of an evil corporation that hates plants and stuff. That would be exciting, you might get in trouble, but you're under eighteen so you won't do time.
Set up a compost and yard waste drive in your neighborhood. Get someone to donate a shared garden space, and make a monster heap of compost there, with room to turn it. This would be mostly door to door stuff, in a truck. It would make a difference in the world but might not be very sexy.
There's some animal in your area that people like. Maybe martins (because you have mosquitos) or anything else. You build tons of animal housing, plant habitat plants, all over town to try to get their population up.
Just a few ideas, if you're trying to do your OWN thing, and not just go learn on a farm. Not that theres anything wrong with that.
I feel that permaculture is where I should have going since I was your age. Unfortunately I didn't even hear about it until I was 50. As you journey forward, keep in mind that there are no wrong turns. Just lessons to be learned. Your path is yours alone and will only feel correct to you. Take advice from others, but make the decisions for yourself.
What lies behind or ahead of us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
Wishing I was in your shoes..........
You can die on the bleachers or you can die on the playing field, but you can't get out of life alive