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Aug 10, 2018

Celebrating Bilingual Nature Johnson Creek’s Maiden Year

This spring and summer JCWC hired two youth as Bilingual Nature interns, Rita via Verde NW, and Lucero via Lents Youth Initiative. Both second-generation immigrants born in Portland, Rita and Lucero spent 3+ months learning about environmental restoration projects, outreach strategies, event planning, and ecology. Bilingual Nature Johnson Creek is a program begun in the summer of 2017. Thanks to funding from the Collins Foundation, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and a generous anonymous donor, our interns we able to learn numerous restoration and office skills working together with JCWC Community Outreach Coordinator, Adrienne Moat.

All of their hard work resulted in two nature events held at Leach Botanical Garden, both planned by the interns who also translated on-site the day of. Special thanks, also, to Leach Botanical Garden, their Education Coordinator JoAnn Vrilakas, Ana Meza of Rose CDC and AM Photography, and Verde NW staff, Jess Faunt and Malin Jimenez. We invite you to read more below about Rita and Lucero’s experiences, and if you scroll all the way down you will find a translated version from Lucero written in Spanish….

Of her experience, Rita shared:

“This opportunity I had to become an intern at the JCWC, has been the best! Being an intern at the JCWC feels so good! From walking through the doors of their old Milwaukie building to now walking through the doors of their new building! All of the staff members make feel so welcome every time. Time goes by so fast when I’m there. I enjoy every minute I’m working and learning new skills! Honestly being intern has to be the highlight of my summer!

July 10th: 7am. I woke up with so much excitement for my event. I was nervous at first, but it all went away when I got to Leach Botanical Garden! When I did my presentation with Adrienne in front of my guests I felt so proud of myself! Lunch was delicious as well! We had tamales, fruits, chips & salsa and some juice! Overall, my event went great and I felt so good after it. As my time comes to an end with JCWC, I want to thank them for giving me this amazing opportunity to learn new skills and plan an event! It has been a great ride with Adrienne and the staff members!”

Lucero Shared:

Leaving school hopping onto bus 20 transferring onto bus 73 right after not knowing what to expect when arriving to Leander court apartments. I was excited and nervous to meet Adrienne, my mentor for the bilingual internship program. Once I got to meet Adrienne I saw how passionate she was and is about nature and most important plants. I was lucky to learn about plants from some who’s so passionate and fascinated by them. In JCWC their mission is to promote restoration and stewardship of a healthy Johnson Creek Watershed through sound science and community engagement. Through the program, I reached out to my family, friends, social media, and Lents Youth Initiative youth about the nature event I chose to do for my internship on how bugs, plants, and people interact with each other. I learned how to make a brochure and flyer through canva in the language I first learned to speak which was Spanish. The more time I spent designing the flyer and brochure the more inspired and motivated I got about my event.I chose to do my nature event at Leach botanical garden. I fell in love with the garden. It was full of pollinators, birds chirping happily, and beautiful plants. The creek also ran through the garden! Every time Adrienne and I went to a site especially Leach Botanical Garden I always saw something new before. JCWC gave me the opportunity to learn more about the nature sites around Portland and how important nature and creek are to the many species in the community we call home. I never knew how much information I was missing about nature and the creek itself. I knew that creeks, oceans, rivers, gardens, forest, etc were important to this world but once I realized how much things play into nature the more I cared about the polluted, trashed, and dying world were living in. it’s inspiring to see a non-profit environmental organization care so much about the environmental issues that go on in our communities that a city will never care about or put it as a first priority. JCWC is a successful organization because of the strong relationship they have with communities, not many youths like me are lucky enough to get the opportunity to learn and get knowledge about the world they are living in. I will always carry the knowledge I learned with JCWC and share it with others. I’m truly blessed and inspired to come across an organization like JCWC and will forever remember the great laughs Adrienne and I had. The more knowledge people become and more love they give to the world the more love earth will give back to us.

Days on days passed and next thing I know it’s time to do my nature event.  It was a really hot, sunny, bright day as well. So much planning and time went into this special day. I was really nervous but happy I was stepping out my comfort zone and speaking in my native language to my family and friends, and was scared I wasn’t going to be fluent enough to be understood. Once people started showing up it was exciting and nerve-wracking to see knowing and in no time I was going to talk in front of a crowd. Once Friends and family speaking amongst each other I let some nerves out. When it was time to start my event I gave it my all and kept reminding myself that it’s okay if I mess up. After a while I wasn’t even that nervous It was amazing to see people supporting me and getting to plan an event for non-English speakers and showing them that they also matter and are included in events like these. This made me feel more connected to my people and see how powerful language can be. All in all, it was a positive day spent with amazing people. A day that I’ll never forget about.”

Lucero en espanol:

Dejando la escuela saltando al autobús 20, luego al autobús 73 justo después de no saber qué esperar al llegar a los apartamentos de la corte de Leander. Estaba emocionada y nerviosa de conocer a Adrienne. Mi mentora para el programa bilingüe de pasantías. Cuando conocí a Adrienne, vi lo apasionada que era para la naturaleza y las plantas más importante. Tuve la suerte de aprender sobre las plantas de alguien apasionada y fascinada de ellas. En JCWC su misión es promover la restauración y la administración de una cuenca de agua sana de Johnson Creek a través de la ciencia sólida y el compromiso de la comunidad. A través del programa, me comuniqué con mi familia, amigos, redes sociales y jóvenes de Iniciativa Juvenil Lents sobre el evento de naturaleza que elegí hacer para mi pasantía sobre cómo los insectos, las plantas y las personas interactúan entre sí. Aprendí cómo hacer un folleto y volante a través de canva en el idioma que aprendí por primera vez para hablar en español. Cuanto más tiempo pasé diseñando el volante y el folleto, más inspirado y motivado me sentí por mi evento. Decidí realizar mi evento de naturaleza en el jardín botánico de Leach. Me enamoré del jardín. Estaba lleno de polinizadores, pájaros cantando alegremente y hermosas plantas. ¡El arroyo también corría por el jardín! Cada vez que Adrienne y yo fuimos a un sitio especialmente al Jardín Botánico Leach, siempre vi algo nuevo. JCWC me dio la oportunidad de aprender más sobre los sitios naturales alrededor de Portland y lo importante que son la naturaleza y el arroyo para las muchas especies en la comunidad que llamamos hogar. Nunca supe cuánta información me faltaba sobre la naturaleza y el arroyo. Sabía que los riachuelos, los océanos, los ríos, los jardines, etc. eran importantes para este mundo, pero una vez que me di cuenta de cuánto influyen las cosas en la naturaleza, más me importaba el mundo contaminado, destruido y agonizante. Era inspirador ver una organización medioambiental sin fines de lucro se preocupa tanto por los problemas medioambientales que ocurren en nuestras comunidades que a una ciudad nunca le importará o la pondrá como primera prioridad. JCWC es una organización exitosa debido a la fuerte relación que tienen con las comunidades, no muchos jóvenes como yo tienen la suerte de tener la oportunidad de aprender y conocer el mundo en el que viven. Siempre llevaré el conocimiento que aprendí con JCWC. y compartirlo con otros. Estoy realmente bendecida e inspirada para encontrarme con una organización como JCWC y siempre recordaré las grandes risas que tuvimos Adrienne y yo. Cuanto más personas se vuelven más conscientes y más amor le dan al mundo, más amor nos dará la tierra.

Pasaron días en días y lo siguiente que sé es que es hora de hacer mi evento de naturaleza. Fue un día realmente caluroso, soleado y brillante también. Tanto planificación y tiempo entraron en este día especial. Estaba realmente nerviosa, pero feliz de salir de mi zona de confort y hablar en mi lengua materna a mi familia y amigos, y tenía miedo de no ser lo suficientemente fluido para ser entendido. Una vez que la gente comenzó a aparecer, fue emocionante y angustiante verlo saber y en un momento iba a hablar frente a una multitud. Un vez que los amigos y la familia hablaron entre ellos, dejé salir algunos nervios. Cuando llegó el momento de comenzar mi evento, di todo y me recordé a mí mismo que está bien si me equivoco. Después de un tiempo ni siquiera estaba tan nervioso. Fue increíble ver a la gente apoyándome y planificando un evento para personas que no hablan inglés y mostrándoles que también importan y que están incluidos en eventos como estos. Esto me hizo sentir más conectado con mi gente y ver cuán poderoso puede ser el lenguaje. En general, fue un día positivo pasado con personas increíbles. Un día que nunca olvidaré.”