In August of 2011 I moved to Eugene, Oregon. In August of 2012 I left Eugene on a bright orange 1977 Honda Hawk for the east coast with the unknown destination of upstate New York. My best friend, Luke, rode by my side on a Honda of his own. I was not in search of a career or financial opportunity, but a livelihood (that would also- hopefully- involve some sort of income). When I left Oregon for my two month long motorcycle trip out east I was leaving behind a place I called home- a place I loved dearly and never thought I would leave. But adventure was seeking me out and I could hide no longer. Plus, it’s good to leave what you love- and to return to it later as a more directional and non-self centered being, with the ability to give back all that it has given you.
The experience was awesome and awful. A lot of misfortune, but a lot of grand fortune, too- helpful people, kind souls, stunning land, horrific storms (yes, I count that as fortunate), the desert which brewed within myself a state of mindfulness and self awareness, the mountains and canyons that echoed my insignificance and initiated a connection between myself and the land that I traveled and the biotic inhabitants that rested and quarreled among us, the trucker in Arizona who paid for our gas, and Sharon, an older stout woman from Northeast New Mexico that put us up for free and made us BLTs for dinner, eggs and bacon for breakfast, and sent us packing with hugs, apples and canned fruit.
When I arrived in the east it would be another 10 months until I found my way to New York. With an overwhelming feeling of idleness and misdirection living in Vermont and New Hampshire and in-between jobs, I decided to go back to school. So in August of 2013 I enrolled into Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks as a wildlife student. It was in that first week that I realized I really didn’t give much interest towards animal science and was instead intently focused on the plants, fungi, insects and the symbiotic relationships among the three. I then enrolled into the integrative studies program for a combination degree in biology and environmental science. I balanced my scientific education with courses in writing, the arts, and the humanities- as well as contributing to art shows and public speaking events. I believe that balance is what kept me sane throughout my very science-intensive curriculum. I stayed at Paul Smith’s for 5 semesters and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in December 2015.
December is a horrible time to graduate if you are a plant person. Absolutely no one is hiring. (Hasn’t anyone ever heard of winter ecology!?). So I decided to look into internships that could get me back out in the Pacific Northwest. I stumbled upon the CLM internship and figured I’d give it a shot. I was shocked at the effort of perfect placement the CLM recruiters gave. I mentioned four things that I wanted out of the internship- plants, insects, wetlands, and the Pacific Northwest- and I got all four!
Now here I am- back in Eugene after almost four years, back home in the PNW, studying and monitoring the creatures I care so deeply for. It’s a complete time loop. I left not knowing what I wanted or how to get what I needed. I set out on an adventure with no expectations and in due time it prepared me for what I feel I was meant to do from the very beginning- I just didn’t know it yet. Well, I kind of new but I think I needed the verification, education, and life experience I didn’t quite have then. But now I do! Not that the adventure has ended or that I’m finished learning, experiencing the unexpected. What a sorry story that would be! I am where I need to be right now just as I was four years ago- just as I was on my motorcycle, in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. I’m here and I couldn’t be happier.
BLM West Eugene Wetlands