The staff and Board at Eastern Sierra Land Trust are delighted to welcome Catherine Tao to ourteam as our 2015/2016 Education Coordinator and AmeriCorps Member! Catherine comes to us throughthe Sierra Nevada Alliance’s Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) program;shebeganher 11-month service term just last week, andwill bewith us through September 2016. Catherine is thrilledto now livein the Eastern Sierra, and is looking forward toworking on a variety of exciting projectsandconnecting our community to the Eastern Sierra lands she has recently come to love.

Our new Education Coordinator/AmeriCorps Member, Catherine Tao, at the summit of Mt. Whitney - the pinnacle of her JMT hike this past summer.

Our new Education Coordinator/AmeriCorps Member, Catherine Tao, reveling at the summit of Mt. Whitney and the end of herJohn Muir Trail experiencethis past summer.

Growing up in the lushforest and rolling plains of Michigan, Catherine developed a craving for mountains. She decided to hike the John Muir Trail this past summer after finishing her bachelor’s degree in Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Michigan. “I wanted to spend time in a place that took me to glaciers, paternoster lakes, and other alpine treasures,” Catherine shared. “I had never done a thru-hike of this length before so I wanted to test my limits. I wanted to know what it would be like to ‘live’ off of my back and outside for a while.”

She couldn’t help but fall in love with the Sierra. Among many favorite stops along the trail, Long Meadow stands out in her memory, “lush with the colors of deep purple wildflowers, whites of sheer granite, and fluorescent green pines – all framed under the bright blue sky. It reminded me of the colors of my deciduous roots, butblendedwith my dreams of high mountains.”

Catherine has wanted to pursue environmental work for many years,a desire “fueled by the natural inclination of wanting to be close to something you love… I feel as though my limbs are a bit more free, my priorities a bit straighter, and my heart a little lighter when I am outside – feelings that I cannot replicate doing anything else.”

Catherine Tao ClimbingCatherinefeelsfortunate to have foundESLT to continue her path in environmental work, andsheis eager to dive in.

“I am most excited to work with ESLT because this is an organization that makes a permanent impact. I had not known of Land Trusts ordevelopment rights before finding ESLT. The more I learn, the more I appreciate the impact it is making and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

As for life in Bishop, this may be her personal version of paradise.”I am looking forward to being in the Eastern Sierra, as it is one of my favorite ecosystems thatI have encountered. I can hike and climb to my heart’s content! I am excited to explore a place that is completely foreign to me, totake the time to slowly learnits contours. In the future, I hope to continue to be this fortunate to enjoy whatever work I do whileliving in a place I equally revere.”

Catherine told us that she, “still pinches herself every so often to make sure this is not a dream.”We hope you’re not dreaming, Catherine, because we’re equally thrilled to have you on the team!

Catherine Tao on the JMT