Introducing Indigo Johnson, ESLT’s new Education Coordinator & AmeriCorps Member

All of us at Eastern Sierra Land Trust are excited to welcome Indigo Johnson to the team as our 2016/2017 Education Coordinator & AmeriCorps Member!

img_5122Indigo comes to us through the Sierra Nevada Alliance’s Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) – a selective program that places 28 young leaders into conservation agencies and organizations throughout the Sierra Nevada each year. SNAP members like Indigo have been working with ESLT ever since the SNAP program began in 2009. By focusing on watershed restoration and monitoring, education, and volunteer support, our SNAP members play a critical role in connecting our community to the conservation work made possible thanks to supporters like you.

Indigo began her 11-month service term just last week, and will be with us through September 2017. To help you get to know her better, we asked her a few questions about her background and interests:

What are your roots?

I am a native Californian, born and raised in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area. Growing up, I devoured the written word – to the point where family had to remind me not to read while crossing the street (they had given up on trying to stop me from reading and walking). I have also always loved anything that has to do with animals, especially science programs. Or just simply staring at them for as long as possible!

Earlier this year, I graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Earth Systems, an interdisciplinary environmental science degree. Studying at Stanford gave me the chance to be around brilliant people at the forefront of research in ecology and conservation,which further refined my passion for the natural world.

I have also been super active all my life. I started organized physical activity – beginning with martial arts – when I was four years old, in addition to a healthy dose of frolicking around in nature. I kept with it through university, where I transitioned into rock climbing and was an active member of the climbing team.

Where does your interest in conservation stem from?

My interest in conservation likely came from running around in the redwood forests of Northern California as a child. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by any animal I could track down or read about. It didn’t take long before reading about an animal led to reading about the issues facing its future well-being.

img_4711What first brought you to the Eastern Sierra?

I stumbled into the Eastern Sierra for the first time in the summer of 2013, after accepting an Interpretive Ranger Internship at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Driving into town, I instantly started wondering what I had gotten myself into – but by the end of my first week in Bishop, I was hooked. I have had trouble staying away ever since.

What a cool opportunity! Any fun facts you can share about the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest that we may not be aware of?

Well, I was pretty shocked when I realized that Bristlecone needles stay on the trees for about thirty years. It’s crazy enough staring at a tree that has been around for upwards of five thousand years, but then to think that the needles alone have been on their branch for longer than I’ve been alive, that really puts an unimaginable timescale into a manageable perspective.

What drew you to the Education Coordinator / AmeriCorps Member position at ESLT?

I first heard about ESLT long before I knew anything about the SNAP program. From the beginning, I realized that this organization combined two of my favorite things, conservation and the Eastern Sierra, and so I decided that I would keep my eye on any future work opportunities.

When I learned about the AmeriCorps position earlier this summer, I knew it was the perfect fit. Most of the adults in my family are teachers – and although I have always said that I would never go into education myself, my heart keeps tricking me into being drawn towards roles that allow me to educate people of all ages about environmental issues that I care about.

img_2576What do you look forward to most about working with ESLT in the months to come?

I’m looking forward to so many things, but among the highest on my list is having the opportunity to connect face-to-face with so many people that are passionate about protecting the Eastside. I’m also eager to work with children and get them excited about conservation from a young age.

What is your dream job?

I’m shooting for world-famous folk singer, but I would settle for independently-wealthy puppy cuddler.

When not at work, what do you look forward to doing while living in the Eastern Sierra?

I will definitely spend some time napping under, and occasionally climbing, rocks. I love rock climbing, so living in Bishop is a bit of a dream come true! Also, I plan to spend time teaching my Betta fish, Bubbles, how to accompany me on field work, making lots of delicious food, and doing soul searching on which ice cream flavor is truly the best (if you’d like to donate pints to the cause, I’d love to see you at the office!)

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