Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Sweet Homecoming

Greetings! My name is McKenzie Selden, and I am the new AmeriCorps member serving at Cascadia Conservation District. I've spent my first half hour of work this morning looking back at previous members' blogs and have been thoroughly inspired and excited for the projects and challenges that will be coming my way this year.

I hail from the tiny town of Entiat, about 15 miles north of Wenatchee on the highway, and then another 14 miles up a rural county road. It was a childhood filled with farm animals, dirty fingernails, backpacking trips into the Glacier Peak Wilderness, and homemade applesauce. Growing up here really instilled in me an appreciation for the natural, wild world and left me wondering what I could do to keep it that way. And so, when I found myself at Western Washington University, I chose to focus my studies on learning tactics for regulation of things contributing towards climate change. I also focused my learning on how to communicate the importance and immediacy of a need for action; I majored in Environmental Policy with a minor in Communication Studies.

La Catarata de la Fortuna,
Costa Rica
My last semester of college was spent abroad, studying Sustainable Development with the School for Field Studies in Costa Rica. It was an amazing whirlwind of a semester where I learned how to think critically about tourism, was chased by capuchin monkeys, and made lifelong friends that taught me more, possibly, than any of my actual courses that semester. However, as a girl who lives for Eastern Washington winters, all I could think about at the end of the semester, was how badly I needed to ski. So, I (somewhat reluctantly) returned to the Wenatchee Valley with high hopes of being a ski bum- only to be met with the worst winter in my lifetime. Nonetheless, I worked at Mission Ridge and fell back in love with the valley. I spent my summer working my 3rd season for the Forest Service on a recreation crew and then for interagency dispatch once the fires took over.

Students from Entiat Elementary School
create their own watersheds at Salmon Fest
Heading into my first fall since I had graduated from college, I was still searching for my purpose in the valley. How would I make my time here valuable? That's when I saw the opening for this job. I had always planned on doing a year of service but I had no idea where, how, or when I would do it. Being the AmeriCorps for Cascadia has already served to be rewarding and nostalgic to me. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve the community that raised me, and perhaps to inspire the minds of young people growing up in this community right now.

My first week, I participated in Salmon Fest where Cascadia hosts the Rolling Rivers exhibit. It was great to dive right into teaching and hands on activities with kids.

One of my duties as the AmeriCorps is to update this blog, so thank you for reading! Please post any conservation related questions or topics you might be interested in reading about and I'll do my best to address them in upcoming posts!


P.S. A quick reminder that there is only one week left in our Clean Water Campaign photo contest! Photos taken anywhere in Chelan County having to do with recreation, water, plants, wildlife, agriculture, or landscapes can be submitted for a chance to be included in our 2016 natural resources stewardship calendar. Submit your photos by October 1st at!