Well, that went by fast. Although I will be continuing working with IMBY into the fall, the Summer 2016 IMBY Cohort is officially ready to pass the torch forward to the next group of determined environmental stewards.
When I first applied for IMBY it seemed almost impossible for someone like me to join the esteemed National Park Service. As a young woman born and raised in the safety of the suburbs to a family that NEVER went to National Parks, you could guess I felt a bit unqualified. But because of this program and the incredible folks behind it, I quickly realized that people like me who didn’t grow up with a hiking pole in hand, hold the key to diversifying the National Park Service. With that in mind, I felt even more empowered to change the status quo of the NPS and use my position to serve as a role model for other minorities.
Before this internship, I was in a transitional period of my life—going from being completely immersed in college life at the University of Washington to taking a year off and being a full-time employee and adult. It was challenging for me to say goodbye to what I considered normalcy for the past two years, but I am so grateful that I was allowed the opportunity to continue learning and sharing my passion for the environment through this program. Throughout the summer, I definitely had my up’s and down’s when it came to managing work, internship, self-care, and all around life. I neglected spending time and volunteering outdoors to focus on other things, but working alongside In My Backyard and the National Park Service restored my appreciation and relationship with the environment. Being able to do purposeful work, and work that I believe that I am meant to do for the rest of my life, completely changed my perspective on life and our surroundings.
At the beginning of the internship, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. What does the National Park Service and the Seattle metropolitan area have to do with each other? Apparently, quite a bit. The main theme that I gathered and connected to the most is community. From small neighborhood events, like Jam Fest in the International District that was literally in an alley, to massive nationwide campaigns, like First Lady Obama’s Let’s Move! Outside initiative with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at Seward Park, going to events across the city showcased what communities are capable of accomplishing together. So by connecting Seattleites from all walks of life with the National Park Service’s warm invitation to experience the natural surroundings, together the two are capable of creating so much more. A stronger sense of community. A richer history and culture. A more inclusive nation where diversity can be celebrated and respected. Take it from someone who experienced this partnership firsthand when I say that it is wholeheartedly inspirational, supportive, and worthwhile.
–Amanda, IMBY Summer 2016 Intern