Do You Know What a Jeffery Pine Smells Like?

Oftentimes a person’s job disconnects from what he believes in. As ESLT’s 2012 Education Coordinator and a member of the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership, I combine my passion with my job and spend every day contributing to a mission I believe in and preserving a region that has served as my sanctuary since childhood. I’ve become immersed in multiple communities comprised of passionate individuals that have taught me how to inspire others, effectively garner support for a cause and invaluable information about the environment and culture in which I’m now ingrained.

Victoria joins Lands Director Aaron Johnson on an annual monitoring trip to Swall Wildlife Preserve

The beauty of working with a small nonprofit is that I’ve been able to wear a variety of hats. In 10 months I’ve been able to put on 23 events, represent ESLT at 6 community events, give over 24 presentations (oftentimes multi-day), host 7 brown bag lunch speakers, and clock 22 days in the field spent on restoration projects and stewardship.  My favorite events have included a creative writing workshop and field trip at Benton elementary school, a stargazing party and the sunflower project because I learned about various new subjects (gardening, space, outdoor education) while organizing them.

I’ve been fortunate to join our Lands Director on monitoring visits to several of ESLT’s beautiful conservation easements and have clocked more than a couple gorgeous days at our Benton ponds restoration site removing bull thistle and hardstem bulrush and transplanting three square bulrush. I’ve enjoyed organizing and enhancing our volunteer program, especially during cleanup events such as the Highway cleanup and Great Sierra River Clean Up.

A group of 3rd-8th grade Benton students check out the local flora and fauna during a creative writing field trip to Benton Hot Springs Ranch and ponds

The calendar has been packed almost every week and I thrive with the busy work plans. I’ve traveled to Sacramento and Salt Lake City for land trust conferences, across the Sierra several times for SNAP trainings and have learned about this region from friends and co-workers alike. I’ve also tried to spend every weekend exploring a new area of my “backyard” and experiencing as much of this spectacular area on my time off as possible.

I’m thankful for the legacy binders and the constant support from my supervisor and fellow staff for ideas and guidance in re-creating previous events. ESLT has a team-centric environment which encourages feedback and collaboration. All of our events have been products of all the staff members rather than an individual effort.

Bishop 3rd graders in the ESLT garden show off Sunflower Project graphs

Although I don’t want to steal any flightless bird’s upcoming holiday thunder, I’d like to give thanks to everyone that has made 2012 another best year of my life. And thank you to the Jeffrey pines for their sweet scent that reminds me why I’m serving the sierra.

A child sniffing a Jeffrey Pine at our 2012 Family Day