Growing up in Idaho I was fortunate to spend time in and around the Sawtooth National Forest. It was in an Idaho campground that I became aware of the mountain pine beetle’s devastating impacts, and it was in the woods of California that I discovered the most fascinating creature to roam our national forests—the banana slug.
Throughout my childhood, I also saw the land change drastically. Close to my hometown of Eagle, a 12,000+ housing development was proposed that would impact 2,000 home wells in the immediate area. This was a significant shift from the original zoning regulations around our neighborhood, and family conversations started to surround water rights.
Seeing this interface between the needs of a growing population and the continued conservation of our natural resources inspired me to pursue a degree related to the environment.
After leaving Idaho, I attended Washington University in St. Louis where I studied Environmental Science. For several of my undergraduate years I worked at Tyson Environmental Research Center (TRC). At TRC, we focused on the movement ecology of the surprisingly speedy three-toed box turtle. I particularly enjoyed this project as it had a significant outreach component—we showed students how to use radio-telemetry tracking technology and held teacher workshops focused on integrating field science into the classroom.
Following my graduation, I worked for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) in the Adirondacks to improve the public’s access to remote wilderness areas. This included removing blowdown, constructing bridges, and many meditative hours spent digging in the dirt. I was happy to learn that NFF supports the work of local trail crew groups, as I believe this kind of work can have a profound impact on the relationship between a young adult and the outdoors.
I think the solace one can find in building trails is a unique sort of peace, and I my time with SCA greatly enhanced my appreciation for the maintenance hours that go into preserving recreation access in our wilderness areas.
Soon after the Adirondacks I began a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy with a certificate in GIS at Northern Arizona University (NAU). While at NAU, I interned with the USFS unit Forest Health Protection and researched the impact of jurisdictional boundaries on forest pest management.
Through this project I was impressed by the vast acreage of skeletal grey forest leftover from bark beetle attacks around my study site of Rocky Mountain National Park. After interviewing agency personnel about the diverse management challenges they face in responding to outbreaks, I became interested in pursuing a career centered on implementing forest restoration projects in collaboration with federal and local governments.
Now at the National Forest Foundation, I am incredibly excited to work with an organization that addresses both the importance of forest health and the value of outdoor recreation. I look forward to learning more about project management as the California Program Associate for the Tahoe area, and am thrilled to now call this region home!