Carole Holmson, Community Volunteer Ambassador: Carole has been with In My Backyard since February, 2019. She is involved with recruiting and supporting IMBY mentors and interns, developing program agendas, representing IMBY and the National Park Service at community events, and creating content for the program’s social media platforms. Prior to joining the IMBY team, she worked as a park ranger on the Oregon Coast, with her favorite duties including whale-watching with visitors of all ages and guiding tours inside Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. Carole is passionate about connecting people to public lands and is excited for the opportunity to do so in Washington’s largest city. She graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources. In her free time, you can usually find her in hiking or running shoes, exploring Seattle’s city parks and nearby forests!
Megan Young, Program Assistant: Megan began at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park as a volunteer intern with the In My Backyard Program in the spring of 2017. Her cohort began developing curriculum for high school students with the guidance of Klondike’s HBCUI Intern, Chanara to create a sense of belonging in national parks. Since then, Megan has worked on various projects from social media, field trips, partnerships, community events and has continually been involved with In My Backyard. Currently, Megan serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator, connecting communities in the Puget Sound to resources and national parks. Developing and sustaining partnerships through meaningful and authentic relationships is an aspect of her job that Megan really enjoys.
Brady Adams, IMBY Mentor: Brady is currently working towards a degree in Energy and Sustainable Policy at Penn State University. He grew up in Central Pennsylvania, and he originally planned to study business in college until he realized the importance in aligning his studies with his developing passions. Brady enjoyed the outdoors growing up, but it wasn’t until 2017 that he was able to visit Washington and National Parks for the first time.
Sarah Blackwood, IMBY Mentor: Sarah grew up in Ellensburg, WA, and found a passion for environmental conservation and stewardship as a high school student. Hoping to pursue a career with an environmental focus, she attended the University of Redlands where she studied sustainability, ethics, and social justice. After graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies, Sarah moved to Seattle where she was able to share her passion for the environment with youth, working with high school students on habitat restoration projects and community based sustainability projects. She is excited to be an IMBY Mentor and hopes to inspire young people to explore the world around them, and find their passions as she did at their age.
Liz Cusinelli, IMBY Mentor: I was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington and grew up among the trees, fostering a unique sense of peace within myself that I can only find in nature. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Law, Societies and Justice and Political Science from the University of Washington, and throughout college I developed a fierce passion for social and environmental justice, as well as long political discussions. I am excited to be a part of a one-of-a-kind program that will not only allow me to learn and grow, but also allow students to create something beautiful, and find their place in a park.
Suzannah Yu, IMBY Mentor: As a Washington native, I feel grateful to be located in the Puget Sound region which is hugged from all directions by diverse, natural landscapes. Whether it be peering under rocks along the beach to observe the miniature crabs scuttling by, to the winding hikes up into the Cascades to appreciate it’s rugged beauty that rivals even the most picturesque postcards, I have always felt at home here. During my time with the National Park Service, I hope to cultivate a strong sense of environmental stewardship for the natural world and to empower youth of all backgrounds to create meaningful change in their own communities.
Allison Burdick, Community Volunteer Ambassador: Allison has been involved with In My Backyard since the fall of 2014 as an intern. She volunteered with the program again in the summer of 2015 after graduating from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Environmental Science & Resource Management. As of February 2018, Allison has worked at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park as the Community Volunteer Ambassador through Conservation Legacy. Allison is excited to support the IMBY team in a leadership role, and help the intern teams implement our first summer mentorship program, A Place at the Park.
Amanda Hsu, A Place at the Park Program Assistant: Amanda is currently a junior at the University of Washington pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Resource Management with a Minor in Mathematics. She started at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park in the summer of 2016 as the Exhibit Intern for In My Backyard–designing a mobile park dedicated to engaging urban communities and evoking a sense of belonging within federal lands. Her work and personal connection with a sense of belonging within National Park sites has garnered her publications in various media outlets. In fall of 2017 she began her position as Every Kid In A Park Field Trip Coordinator and is excited to be taking on her role as Program Assistant for A Place At the Park. Amanda is fiercely dedicated to working towards greater inclusivity, sustainability, and accessibility to environmental education and National Parks for all. In her free time, Amanda loves exploring new places, trails, and eats–as well as videochatting with her cat Kimchi in her home state of California.
Megan Young, Community Outreach Mentor: Megan is currently enrolled at the University of Washington and graduating this spring with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and a minor in Urban Design and Planning. In the summer of 2017, Megan was an In My Backyard intern and then continued working as a Marketing and Visual Communication Designer through February for Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. As of March 2018, Megan is now the Community Outreach Mentor and is extremely excited to continue working with the National Park Service. Megan is looking forward to meeting new people, working with others, and kicking off the new summer mentorship program, A Place at the Park. When Megan is not at the office, you can find her taking photographs, eating queso dip, and reading fashion magazines. She loves her family and friends, her two miniature schnauzers, Chloe and Gertie, as well as exploring new places.
Sydne Dresser, IMBY Mentor: Sydne is currently a senior at the University of Washington and is graduating this spring with a double major in International Studies and Spanish. She is a new IMBY intern as of April 2018 and is excited to hit the ground running along with the other new interns. Growing up in Washington has given Sydne a deep love for the outdoors and all that nature has to offer. She is passionate about environmental conservation and justice as well as equity and equality for all. In her downtime, Sydne loves to play Nintendo, hike around Washington, eat sushi, and take frequent naps.
Auriza Ugalino, IMBY Mentor: Auriza grew up in Kitsap County surrounded by the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula. She graduated from the UW Sociology program and completed an honors thesis on the Asian Pacific American experience–focusing on interactions and intersections of identity. After graduation, she moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where she had the honor of meeting all kinds of people and traveling to several different countries while practicing photography. Now back in the U.S., she wants to promote anti-racism efforts and diversity in her community. She looks forward to A Place at the Park as an opportunity to expand our understanding of how we experience the outdoors and to create a fun summer experience for local high school students.
Shannon Urabe, IMBY Mentor: Shannon Urabe (pronounced ‘oo-raw-bay’) was born and raised on the island of Oahu, and spent her last four years in New York City studying Sociology with minors in Asian American Studies and Media at Hunter College. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree, Shannon decided to move to Seattle to pursue a career within the Chinatown/International District. She currently works full-time at The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience as their Visitor Services and Events Assistant Manager. Through her work, Shannon has connected with many different organizations, such as the National Park Service, and has found how a strong community can truly create impactful changes for the neighborhood’s future. Through the In My Backyard program, Shannon hopes to teach high school students about the importance of the intersection of community and history, and engage them in pursuing community work. She’s excited to be a part of the first year of launching A Place at the Park and can’t wait to meet new people! If Shannon is ever not working, she enjoys finding opportunities to volunteer at food events, playing her ukulele and binge watching a lot of comedy shows.
Aron Yohannes, IMBY Mentor: Aron is from Skyway, Washington and is a senior at the University of Washington. He is majoring in Environmental Science with minors in Mathematics and Climate. He’s interested in learning about how the changing climate will impact Washington ecosystems. One of his goals for the A Place at the Park program is to make underrepresented youth find a sense of belonging in the outdoors and develop environmental stewardship. He hopes to use his own mentoring/tutoring experience and educational background to contribute to this program. In his free time, he enjoys attending Sounders matches at Centurylink Field, traveling, and reading science fiction novels. His favorite books are the Ringworld series, The Forever War, and Ender’s Game
Alicia Raftery, Community Outreach Mentor: Alicia graduated from the University of Washington in June with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Comparative History of Ideas. She was an In My Backyard intern in winter and summer 2015, and is excited to be back on the IMBY team in a mentorship role. Alicia is passionate about environmental and social justice, design and creative arts, and youth education programs. This summer she looks forward to building on past cohorts’ work to support the intern team’s creation of tangible and meaningful programming.
Erin Savoy, Community Outreach Intern: I am a student at Seattle University studying Environmental Studies, Biology, and Spanish. I grew up in Reno, NV, Jacksonville, FL, and Portland, OR. Daughter of high desert dwellers and avid outdoors people, I spent my childhood outside, learning to hike, backpack, camp, and explore with my parents and two younger sisters. I became more intrigued with the history of National Parks during my freshman year of college, in the same class that made me decide to pursue Environmental Studies. I began to understand how we conceive of wilderness, and the process by which we started to protect some of the most beautiful places, while simultaneously erasing the residents of those places. While having a contentious history, the National Park Service has served to protect natural areas, but also important historical sites, monuments, and wilderness protection areas. This protection of the collective American heritage, history, and natural beauty is what I hope to contribute to the stewardship of nature and the world around us, by becoming a Park Ranger. This is why I am very excited to have the opportunity to work with In My Backyard this summer, to work to try to make this collective heritage available to everybody.
August Franzen, Community Outreach Intern: I’m a senior at the University of Washington studying English and Environmental Science. I was born in Seattle but spent most of my childhood in Pittsburgh and moved back to Seattle for college. Every afternoon after school, I would walk the trails of a park near my home. These afternoons spent on and off the trails ignited my love of nature in an urban context. Through my studies, I hope to reunite people with the nature that they see every day: the trees beside the street, the little park down the road, and the creek under the bridge. I believe that these small places can be ecologically valuable and emotionally restorative. Eventually, I would like to use restoration and urban agriculture to fight for environmental justice. I’m excited to be a part of the IMBY team and start connecting youth with their everyday environment. I also work as a technician at the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Theater. I love cooking, especially baking bread, and there is almost always dough rising in my kitchen. Whenever I can find a couple of spare hours, I go straight to the climbing gym and would love to finally hit some outdoor boulders this summer.
Mattie Powell, Community Outreach Intern: I am a senior at the University of Washington pursuing my Bachelors in Landscape Architecture with a minor in Environmental Science and Resource Management. Born and raised in Spokane, Washington I grew up exploring and running wild through the pine forests of the Inland Northwest where I developed a deep love for the outdoors. Recognizing the impact the natural world has had on my own becoming, I am interested in exploring other people’s relationship to nature and how their experiences or lack thereof have influenced their personal lives, their participation in society, and their views of the world. Having previous experience as a housekeeper, floral designer, and toddler teacher, I look forward to my next adventure: working with the IMBY team for a few short months. Over the summer I am also taking a Landscape Architecture studio at UW where I will work with colleagues and a local artist to create a design plan for City Hall Park. In my spare time I hope to spend some time on the water and exploring all Seattle has to offer.
Aaron Nordman, Community Outreach Intern: I was born and raised outside of Seattle, and moved into Capitol Hill five years ago to begin undergrad at Seattle University. From there, I graduated in 2016 with a BS in Psychology and Environmental Studies, and, after working on a research project for a Global Health startup, went right to the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington to start my Masters this past year. I’m extremely excited to get into this second (and final) year of the program and dive into my specialization in Environmental Policy and focusing my courses around social justice and ethics! Within the Evans School I also serve as the VP of Programming for the Partnership for Community & Diversity (PCD). I’m also interning in Sustainability for King County! Among many other things, outside of work and school I enjoy playing soccer and hiking. I also enjoy leisure reading (it’s nice to pick up a book that hasn’t been assigned to me every once in awhile) and I’m especially interested in topics of social justice, sustainability, ethics, and mental health!
Megan Young, Community Outreach Mentor: I am going into my final year at the University of Washington, majoring in Landscape Architecture with a minor in Urban Design and Planning. Originally born in Utah, I’ve lived in four different states, having settled in with my most recent move to Arizona. Loving the warm weather Arizona has to offer, I’m able to consistently do outdoor activities I enjoy. Since I was five years old, I’ve been playing soccer and thrive working with a team. Other activities I love include swimming, basketball, tennis, softball, ceramics, photography, and graphic design. Chloe and Gertie are my two Miniature Schnauzers in Arizona; I absolutely love dogs. In addition to this summer internship with In My Backyard, I also work for the Seattle Mariners, running around with Mariner Moose all game! When I’m not working or doing schoolwork, you’ll find me playing sports, eating, reading fashion magazines, and hanging with family and friends! I’m very excited for this opportunity with the National Park Service and working with the In My Backyard program alongside a great group of people.
Molly Winslow, Community Outreach Mentor: Molly just finished her first year with the UW Museology Master’s program with a focus in collections management, the ethics of collecting, and community engagement. She also works part-time at the Burke Museum of Natural History as a collections assistant in the Ethnology department. There she assisted in developing a partnership with members of the Hmong Association of Washington. The program provides a space for Hmong community members to research Hmong objects in the Burke’s collection. This offers valuable information for the museum and an opportunity for members of the Hmong community to engage more deeply with their own cultural heritage. During her undergraduate years she majored in Sociology and focused on refugee and migrant studies. She completed a thesis which addressed barriers to integration for Bhutanese refugees living in Dayton, Ohio. Since moving to Seattle in September she’s enjoyed getting to explore a new landscape, one that’s extremely different from Ohio. Molly has a love of museums, Harry Potter, kayaking, and old taxidermy.
Rose Thompson, Community Outreach Intern: Rose is a sophomore pursuing a major in Environmental Studies at Seattle University. Growing up in Colorado with a family that loved road trips, she has had the opportunity to explore countless national parks all across the country. When she moved to Bellevue, WA 5 years ago, she was struck my how the scenery contrasted that of her southwest home but recognized the beauty in each landscape. Her passion for the outdoors and being in nature drives her to protect its beauty for generations to come. Growing up, she has enjoyed exploring many national parks all over the country, her two favorites are Bryce Canyon and Rocky Mountain National Park. When she’s not working with her fellow passionate interns at Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, you can find her hiking through enchanted forests or rock formations, playing sports like volleyball or tennis, or determinedly learning pieces of music on the piano. National parks have the space and beauty to inspire anyone who sets foot in any of these refuges. Rose is excited to work with the In My Backyard interns this summer to progress toward the ultimate goal of extending resources to urban youth and expanding their access to these amazing natural preserves.
Megan Kuehl, Community Outreach Intern: Megan Kuehl (pronounced ‘cool’) hails from Northern Arizona near the Grand Canyon, which happens to be her favorite national park, and she relocated to Western Washington in 2012. Megan recently graduated from the University of Washington in Bothell with a Bachelor’s in Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior; an interdisciplinary degree that allows for a more holistic understanding of complex social interactions. Her journey into social services began early in life and her educational path has continued to fuel her passion for social justice and human equity. Megan intends to take a year off before applying to graduate school in order to refresh and recalibrate so she can focus on narrowing down her future educational and career goals. At the moment, she is considering pursuing education, nonprofit administration and/or law. In addition to this summer internship with In My Backyard, she also works full-time at a tap-house in Snohomish, WA, where she currently lives. In her free time, Megan enjoys hitting the trail with her two dogs, sleeping in tents, climbing rock faces, gardening, volunteering, reading, and spending time with friends.
Anna Wittow, Community Outreach Intern: Anna just finished her first year at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance where she is getting her master’s of public administration with a concentration in environmental policy and management. She has a bachelor’s degree in history and in linguistics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. In Michigan she interned for an urban farming company, working to increase access to healthy food. Anna has worked for the past couple of years in Seattle encouraging kids to get involved with the outdoors. As a volunteer naturalist for Seattle Tilth at South Shore K-8, Anna worked with classes each week in a learning garden, teaching about nutritious food, and their systems. Anna spent the past two summers working with kids of all ages through the farm, garden, and outdoor program at an overnight summer camp in Arlington, Washington. Anna grew up in South Seattle and has been an avid outdoors enthusiast since she took her first swim in a glacial lake at age 2. She is so excited to be working with the National Park Service and In My Backyard this summer.
Jimi Hightower, Program Assistant: Jimi has been involved with In My Backyard since the summer of 2014. Initially, she was a volunteer for the program as a mentor, assisted in taking photos and documented the growth of In My Backyard. As of June 2015, Jimi worked at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park as a Student Conservation Association Centennial Volunteer Ambassador Intern and continued to work with In My Backyard. Jimi earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and a Master of Arts in Museology from the University of Washington. Her master’s thesis entitled, Trailblazing the Concrete Jungle: Museums Utilizing Interpretive Nature Trails in Urban Communities, highlighted the benefits of incorporating interpretive trails to supplement environmental education.
Read more about Jimi and find out where her favorite museum is!
Chanara Andrews, Park Ranger Intern: Chanara came to Klondike Gold Rush NHP in the summer of 2017 through a competitive Greening Youth Foundation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities internship. She had just finished her first year at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Her goal for her internship was to foster a sense of belonging in the parks among youth, particularly youth of color and those from underserved communities. Many people in and out of the National Park Service have recognized the overwhelming whiteness of national parks and identified programs targeted at youth as the best way to change this. By teaching an appreciation of national parks at a young age, they want to inspire a new generation of visitors and leaders. Chanara agreed, but wanted to approach the problem from a more holistic angle: people need to feel comfortable in the parks before they will visit them, no matter how many beautiful postcards they see. Thus, A Place at the Park (a very intentional riff on A Seat at the Table) was born. Chanara is currently continuing to earn her undergraduate degree at Spelman College.
Rachelle Urquhart, Teacher: Rachelle teaches AP US History and Honors English at Eastlake High School and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. As the 2013 Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for the National Park Service, she worked closely with Kelsey to create several lesson plans, including a problem based learning project. Her class worked closely with Kelsey and other rangers to connect the NPS to the urban community, thus, laying the foundation for Kelsey’s In My Backyard Initiative. Rachelle is a University of Washington Adjunct lecturer for the University of Washington in the High Schools Program. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Ethnic Studies, focusing in African American Literature with Minor in Law Society and Justice from UW. Her passion for multicultural education and diversity of social justice pushed her to earn her Master’s degree in Teaching from UW with the intent to make positive change in her community through the education of others. In 2012, Rachelle earned the Teacher Recognition Award from the US Presidential Scholars Program.
Leila Mirhaydari, Program Mentor: Leila has been involved with In My Backyard since the summer of 2014. She began as a visitor center volunteer at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, shortly after joining the In My Backyard team as a mentor. Assisting with the documentation and professional growth of the interns through photography and short videos, she also enjoys being a great reference and point of support. Leila earned her Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Science from Washington State University. Leila has a great affinity for wildlife, leading her to choose a degree in Wildlife Ecology. She hopes to continue inspiring others to enjoy and cherish the natural world around them.
Read more about Leila and her journey!