My name is Raena, and I serve as the Environmental Stewardship Coordinator for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA). NSEA strives to recover salmon by engaging the community in restoration, education and stewardship. This spring season, I recruited, trained, and managed a team of ten interns that led over 600 volunteers in streamside restoration efforts to improve salmon habitat.

NSEA internships expose young professionals to the environmental field, allowing interns to explore various aspects of restoration and develop skills for their future careers. Alex was one of the interns I oversaw during the spring season. He was clearly passionate about restoring local streams, but lacked leadership and hands-on experience. In addition to orienting him to NSEA’s volunteer events and teaching him about streamside restoration, I met with him to fine-tune his communication skills, brainstormed ways to address safety concerns, monitored his progress, and provided additional feedback and encouragement. Alex served more than 145 hours. Over that time, he grew to become a confident and engaging leader. During his final evaluation, Alex expressed appreciation for the guidance and experience he gained over the course of the season.

Mentoring and supporting young professionals in the environmental field is one of the best parts of my AmeriCorps service. Knowing they will carry the skills developed through NSEA’s internship program into the future brings meaning to my service and hope that, together, we can inspire new generations to steward our environment.