The last few projects I worked on here have been truly inspiring to be a part of, such as our volunteer project at the Entiat National Fish Hatchery. We were able to coordinate a service project with 16 of our incredible volunteers to go out to the hatchery and help with some trail maintenance on over 4.5 acres over the course of the day. I was so impressed by the positive attitudes and work ethic that every single one of our volunteers had. We were able to get so much more done than I could have hoped for. By the end of the day we were all exhausted and as I walked the trail making sure we had all the materials and that everyone was starting to head back, there were two volunteers that asked if they could stay just a bit longer so that they could get around to the next corner. Now this has taken place after hours of hard work, trimming, weeding, pulling snags, and raking. I did not anticipate having volunteers asking to stay longer and it caught me off guard for a moment, and then I had a sense of pride over how hard and how much they cared about what they were really doing. So, we all grabbed some rakes, pruners and threw our gloves on to help them to finish that last bit. I could not be more proud of the teams of volunteers I have worked with this year.
Working with selfless people who care about their environment and their communities is so rewarding, and it was a great way to close out my service. Out volunteers are vital to so many of our programs success, and throughout this year I have been impressed by the selfless people who donate their time, knowledge, and skills to our programs whether it is our Native Plant Sale, after school extended learning, Kids in the Creek, or any other various volunteer projects. There is a true sense of community that I have found when I am working with our volunteers and it is inspiring to see that many people take time from their busy days to help out their communities and their environment.
Joining Americorps and moving out to Washington State to serve with Cascadia Conservation has been a true life changing experience. I have been a part of so many amazing programs throughout the year and have learned a great deal about conservation, natural resource management, teaching, non-profits and so much more. This year has not been easy, but it has been worth every minute. I have encountered so many new challenges that have prepared me for my next step as I move on with my career in the conservation world with Sauk County back in Wisconsin as a Conservation Coordinator this August. I will be missing Washington and my Cascadia team deeply as I move back, but I am incredibly excited to start this new chapter, and I know that Americorps has given me a strong foundation and invaluable experience in which I will continue to pursue conservation and education.