My last evening campground presentation took place this past Saturday at Cape Lookout State Park. I was not sure how many people were going to attend and felt more nervous than the first time I presented. Maybe the fact that it was going to be my last campground program made me a little sad. Two hours before the program I went for long walk around the campground and talked to people to see if they were interested in joining me that evening. The uniqueness about the campgrounds is the calm and welcoming environment that permits field rangers to easily interact with everyone. It creates a whole new manner of connecting with people because they love the outdoors as much as I do (maybe even more) and perhaps allow them to connect even deeper with the subject matter of the presentation. However, how do you catch their attention and make them curious? You bring with you the most adorable and attention grabbing picture of the Western Snowy Plover; I think it worked!
This time around I got the timing right and I covered all the important points about the snowy plover and the impact corvids can have on their conservation. I was thrilled to see so many people at the amphitheater; young children, teenagers, and older folks. Suddenly, I was not nervous and I just let my passion for the subject take control and do the whole presentation for me. I was not following a script, nor reading the slides because there were no words, just pictures of cute plovers. I felt comfortable and happy doing something that could make a difference in the conservation status of this important shorebird.
This is the main lesson I learned from my internship with Environment for the Americas and the Siuslaw National Forest; building a connection between people and nature is possible through the sharing of stories of the restoration, research, and recreation work taking place in our public lands. Understanding this connection to our environment is important now more than ever. By doing so we can begin thinking about our role and responsibility as citizens of planet Earth and generate the sort of stewardship that can safeguard our environment for present and future generations.
It has been an incredible experience to intern at the Hebo Ranger District and call the Siuslaw National Forest home for these past months. In addition to the lesson I mentioned above, I have also gained plenty of skills that will undeniably help me with what is ahead; graduate school. This fall I will be attending the University of Michigan to focus on conservation ecology. I am excited and nervous at the same time, but my experience this summer has provided a sneak peek at what I can accomplish if I follow my interests and passion for what I love doing.