First Impressions

It’s my second week in the Columbia River Gorge and I still cannot believe how lucky I am to call this place my new home. As I recall the awe and beauty I felt gazing at Mt. Hood for the first time, I remember how I immediately wanted this land to become a part of me: the coniferous forests, the rolling hills, the snow-capped mountains, and the blue sky.  Being connected to a place has always provided me with a deep sense of being grounded; from growing my own food to taking hikes in the woods, I hope that I will be able to continue exploring this connection over the next year.

As the Jesuit Volunteer serving the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute, I will be assisting the SECRETS program. I see many challenging and rewarding opportunities ahead. I am excited to be able to learn about two ecosystems in northern Oregon: the forest and the shrub-steppe environments. Coming from a completely different bioregion, I have many new things to learn, but am excited to start and put my newfound knowledge into action. I am looking forward to teaching bright young minds the local ecology and am interested in finding ways to get more people, both young and old, into the outdoors to experience these amazing ecosystems firsthand.

I hope that as I settle in, I will be continually inspired by the nature outside my backdoor and be able to inspire or reignite a sense of wonder and curiosity in the people I will be working with.  Additionally, I am interested in seeing the connections between our local ecology and larger environmental issues and concerns. I hope that I will be able to get more people interested in taking ownership of the natural spaces around them and help others find their own sense of place in the Gorge.

I am sure I have a lot to learn about the Gorge, the flora and fauna, and even how humans alter and use the landscape. It is in my connection to the earth and the place I inhabit that I recognize my connection to other people and the other life forms in natural spaces. I hope the Gorge can offer me places to explore, help me to continue discovering a sense of place, and grant me greater wonder, amazement, and understanding of the world around me. I hope that it will provide opportunities to connect with people exploring the natural beauty of the Gorge and teach me new ways to maintain the precious ecosystem we are intimately connected to. Most of all my biggest hopes for this year are to be curious, tread lightly, inspire others, and continue to learn about this vast, beautiful world we call home.

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