The biggest thing drawing me to Environmental Initiative is the focus on building bridges and collaborating to accomplish goals. I’m a firm believer that we can achieve our strongest and most sustainable work by joining forces and having more voices represented. I was drawn to the projects at Environmental Initiative that not only prioritize acting on our most pressing environmental issues but also work to center equity. 

I was fortunate to grow up with access to beautiful natural spaces and spent my childhood exploring the mountains, valleys, and waterfalls of East Tennessee. While I grew up enjoying the outdoors, a high school environmental science class piqued my interest in environmental work. My teacher even inspired me to spend my summer working for a local research organization, measuring turtles and tracking bird nests. This led me to study environmental science and soil science in college. I discovered a passion and skill for working with people through a service-learning program centered around social equity. After this experience, I sought out opportunities that approached environmental problem-solving more holistically by engaging communities and addressing systemic inequities. Combining my two spheres of interest, I’ve made nature and relationships the two guiding lights of my career, and I’ve seen the power of working in community with one another to act on environmental and justice issues. 

Margaret Mead’s iconic quote has popped into my head during several of the most meaningful experiences of my life: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” It can be easy to feel like you’re fighting a losing battle when looking at the generations of environmental harm and injustices you’re up against, but I’m inspired by the individuals and groups all over the world who are working towards the same goal. I’m energized each day by remembering that I am a part of a larger collective working to make a difference – I’m never alone in my actions and I always have an opportunity to grow that small group into a larger one. 

At work, the things that bring me the most joy are getting to know the stories of the people I work with, seeing the initial spark of passion and motivation being lit in folks, and being a part of a collective that gets things done and makes changes, big and small. I hope to leave a legacy that encourages others to be open and enthusiastic life-long learners, to actively seek out opportunities to weave together people, resources, and organizations in mutually beneficial connections, and to be a source of fierce joy, empathy, and love for themselves and those around them.