This post was written by Indigo Johnson, Eastern Sierra Land Trust’s 2016/2017 Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership Education Coordinator and AmeriCorps Member. Indigo has served with ESLT for the past 11 months, spending that time working with local gardeners, kids, and volunteers to promote conservation and stewardship, and to connect families with nature.
Her AmeriCorps term ends this week, and all of us at Eastern Sierra Land Trust are deeply thankful for her service to the Sierra.

For three days earlier this month, I attended the Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) graduation in Markleville, CA. I spent that time learning from – and celebrating with – my fellow AmeriCorps members: peers who have been serving communities all across the Sierra region for the past year. It was an inspiring, fun opportunity to reflect on our AmeriCorps experiences. But for some reason I felt out of place.

It was only when I was driving back down Highway 395 – taking that familiar right-hand turn out of Bridgeport, gazing over to where I knew Karen’s Preserve was tucked away next to Crowley, and coasting down Sherwin Grade – that I understood. I had been missing this hot desert air. The sweeping mountains. And above all, I had been missing the people who have made Bishop my home.

Throughout my service term with Eastern Sierra Land Trust, I’ve met so many people who have made this experience stand out. While leading ESLT’s Pollinator Garden Project, I met dozens of enthusiastic gardeners and helped certify 20 new Pollinator Gardens. Through the Sunflower Garden Project, I worked with three separate third-grade classes – educating these curious young boys and girls about bees, blooms, and the natural world. I’ve given presentations to people of all ages up and down the Owens Valley, getting to know the communities and the individuals that make them unique.

And along the way, I’ve fallen more deeply in love with this place and these people.

Working with ESLT has taught me the importance of creating lasting impacts, and it’s also had a lasting impact on me. Although it snuck up on me, I truly feel that my SNAP service term allowed me to grow – both professionally and personally. At the start of my term, I never thought it possible that my experience here would re-ignite my passion for education‚Ķ But here I am, making plans to get a teaching credential.

A large part of this inspiration came from working with all the fantastic educators in Bishop, and seeing how much of an impact they have on their students. And it’s not just the teachers. In my time in the Eastern Sierra, it seems like every single person that I’ve gotten the chance to work with has been wonderful. I landed in a great community. And I hope that I was able to contribute to it.

As I wrap up my last few days here, I’m reminiscing on this past year – and also looking forward to the future. First thing’s first: I am eagerly anticipating a well-deserved break and some time for fun in these beautiful mountains!

What’s next? I can’t say for sure yet, but I’ll tell you this: Bishop is a magical place that I already can’t wait to return to, so no matter where I may be headed, I’ll always look forward to coming back.