Reflections on National Park Week

Last week, I had the honour of being a panelist for Then/Now/Tomorrow: Empowering Our Future Conservation and Climate StewardsThis virtual event aimed to discuss sustainability, accessibility, historic preservation, and climate change in parks and promote youth involvement in maintaining and improving our public lands. At the panel, I had the opportunity to share my experience as a Birdability intern and discuss Birdability’s larger mission. 

Personally, it was really great to hear other people’s perspectives on working with national parks all across the States. It was really interesting to hear about everyone’s diverse work and contributions such as invasive species management or restoration projects. Everyone’s diverse interests and different backgrounds really served as evidence of how conservation work can be done by someone from any sort of walk of life.

Particularly, Olivia Hall’s work as a crew leader for the Piikuni Lands crew, an all-indigenous-led conservation crew based on the Blackfeet Reservation, stood out to me, and I would like to encourage everyone to read more into the Piikuni Lands crew’s work and indigenous stewardship in general. []

Another thing that really touched me was just the community surrounding conservation work and service works within the national parks. Personally speaking, I have felt this community directly through my internship with Birdability, particularly through working with my fellow Bay Area intern, Mo. Our talks about our lived experiences with disability have not only been inspiring for our work at Birdbaility, but also personal validating, comforting, and freeing. Even within the event itself, I saw how the speakers enthusiastically interacted with the audience and felt the overall supportive and positive vibes, which showed me how tight-knit conservation work is and how intertwined service work is with community. It seems learning within service work consists of deeply listening to your peers and the voices of the communities you are serving. Applying those voices, particularly of those who are underrepresented, to a larger mission, weaving the backbones of community along the way, perhaps that’s what service work is. 

As a final note, thinking about the tangible effects of service work and community,  I encourage everyone to think about how they can incorporate stewardship into their everyday lives. Perhaps stewardship can be something as simple as being open to just learning new information that you didn’t know before!!

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