As my AmeriCorps year comes to an end, I almost feel like I just started at ESLT! It’s probably because the year has been a whirlwind of activity and exciting new experiences. My recent AmeriCorps graduation gave me an opportunity to reflect on my time here, and on the impact of the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) in general.

The SNAP Program places 27 talented and creative young people at different environmental non-profits all over the Sierra Nevada. Whenever I meet with these people for trainings, I am always inspired by their energy and passion for their environmental careers, but also for life in general. We really have the Sierra Nevada Alliance to thank for bringing these amazing people to the places in the Sierra that we love. To learn more about this program and the Sierra Nevada Alliance, visit their website.

This really does seem to be the time of year to give thanks- at least I’m feeling that way! I’m so grateful for the staff at ESLT and how welcome they have made me feel, right from the beginning. The people who work here care deeply about the mission of ESLT and the about Eastern Sierra. I’ve really enjoyed working with them.

Meeting the challenges of taking on a new job allowed me to grow both personally and professionally. Some of the things I learned this year were a new found self confidence, the ability to put on an educational event from start to finish, skills to recruit and manage volunteers, and an understanding of how outreach and education support an non-profit organization. I also learned more about how conservation easements work, the relationships between land owners and a land trust, and about taking on a habitat restoration project on conservation land.

Below are photos of some of the highlights of my service.

Local third graders learn about their state flower, the California poppy, and how to grow sunflowers in the ESLT Garden as a part of the Sunflower Project

Exploring Benton Ponds with students from Edna Beaman Elementary during the Birds in the Classroom Field Trip

Monitoring an ESLT conservation easement property that is rich with cultural resources

Checking out wildlife tracks with local kids during Family Day at ESLT's Crowley Hilltop Preserve

Teaching guests at the Naylon Celebration about apple orchards and the history of the Naylon property

Cutting invasive bulrush at Benton Ponds as part of the native fish restoration project

Thanks to everyone for a great year at ESLT!

– Hillary

Three generations of AmeriCorps members at ESLT! From left to right: Sarah Spano, Serena Dennis, and Hillary Behr