My name is Maria, and I am a WSC AmeriCorps member serving with Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust in Issaquah, WA. As an education associate with Mountains to Sound Greenway, I get the opportunity to jump into many different roles. A typical day involves teaching the students in the Greenway and leading them in stewardship projects.
Throughout my time at the Greenway, I have been able to add to my skill and experiences by assisting on other projects. Women in the Woods is a volunteer trails event created in 2010 to address the lack of female presence in the trails community. As an inclusive space, women-identifying and non-gender binary outdoor lovers from all skill levels are welcome and encouraged to join the event. As someone who is new to trails work, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn the ropes from other women and to feel a strong sense of connection in the work we were doing.
My first Women in the Woods event was on Little Si in North Bend, Washington. It was a cold December day but we still had 15 amazing volunteers attend the event. As a group, we hiked up half way up the Little Si trail. We had women as young as 16 to as old as mid-60’s to join us for the event, each one bringing their own experiences and knowledge. Three projects were in progress that day. The one that I was in charge of was building a hugelkulture bed in front of a social trail (a trail made by the public). As a strong group, we dug about a foot and a half into the hard earth using pickaxes. The hole was then filled with layers of organic matter, soil, and leaf litter. Other folks were in charge of moving rocks to block off other socials and building drainage. After a long day of working together, we were able to walk to a viewpoint so the group was able to take in the site and sound of the mountain. Looking around, people were filled with a sense of accomplishment and community.
My second Women in the Woods event was this past May in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Valley at Garfield Ledges. The sun was shining bright and hot that day and 20 wonderful women came to volunteer on the not-yet-completed trail. For this event, we focused on building rock walls, expanding trails, and creating more drains. So many stories of the Middle Fork and Western Washington adventures were exchanged that day. I left that event feeling inspired by the generations of volunteerism that has contributed to our trails system, especially by the female community.
I am so thankful to be an Asian-American woman in this generation of nature stewards and I look forward to seeing more diversity in the trails system.