The continuous clicking of each keyboard in the intern room spills into the long hallway of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council offices, periodically interrupted by shared laughter and the steady flow of the ideas we bounce off of each other throughout the day. Even now, I still feel a kind of contagious motivation when I walk through the double doors knowing I am surrounded by so many people who have dedicated themselves to environmental stewardship. Johnson Creek flows steadily around the side of the building, reminding us why we are here.
The goal of the Council is one of watershed restoration through volunteer action, and as a Community Outreach intern my days are spent assisting in whatever way I can to expand the current scope of participation. This sometimes means contacting one hundred businesses with only a few replies; however, every bit of progress is worth celebrating. After watching a group of dragonfly surveyors crowd around a shimmering 8-spotted skimmer to marvel over its beauty, teaching a child about the life cycle of a salmon at a children’s fair, or looking out over the sea of flagged plantings after a successful event, I am reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of the process.
Working at an environmental non-profit means you are simultaneously aware of environmental issues and their solutions while also having to accept the resources you are given to spread the message of action. You must learn to do the most possible within the confines of funding, which I am now starting to view as less of a hinderance to progress and more of an opportunity for creativity. The continued support of our watershed relies directly on community relationships, both between people and with the environment. After working in the non-profit world, I have fully realized the power of community science and human connection when trying to enact change.
As my internship comes to a close, I find myself approaching my graduation at Portland State, studying abroad in Peru, and the inevitable search for my own niche in the environmental world with much more confidence. No victory is too small when you are working alongside passionate people to create positive change. I will forever return to my experience at Johnson Creek Watershed Council and the words of my supervisor and Volunteer Coordinator Courtney Beckel: “There’s always more to do”.