SCA Alum '11, '12, '13, '14
CJ Goulding has attended SCA’s NPS Academy as both a member and a mentor. He’s interned for SCA in the Grand Tetons and led crews of high school students in city parks for SCA’s Seattle Community Program.
Now, he’s traded in his hard hat and workboots for wingtips and a tie as SCA’s Youth Programs Analyst Intern at the National Park Service’s National Headquarters in Washington, DC.
As good with a pen as he is with a pulaski, he’s written two essays for Children & Nature Network’s “New Nature Movement” blog. You’ll find excerpts from both below, as well as the text of a Q&A he found time to sit down for just the other day.
Hometown: Teaneck New Jersey
SCA Service: Multiple (See above)
College: Oakwood University
Job: Youth Programs Analyst Intern at NPS National Headquarters
Your current SCA internship is a bit of a departure from the typical SCA experience and certainly from your previous ones. How does it compare? What are the coolest parts of the job?
The typical SCA experience (and all of my past experiences) usually involve being outdoors, getting your hands dirty, and working with a crew. For me, this particular internship has been the complete opposite side of the coin. As a Youth Programs Analyst for the National Park Service, I find myself wearing a blue tie more days than the standard SCA blue t-shirt, cleaning up dirty excel spreadsheets more often than shorelines, and planting programs and ideas more frequently than I get the chance to plant native plants.
I learned early on in life that there is something to be gained out of every situation, something to learn in every opportunity. And just as leading a crew and sitting in a cubicle are different internships, there are different lessons to be learned. Here in DC, I am learning how to develop and manage entire youth programs, facilitate meetings, communicate proposals to the leaders of the Park Service, and life’s most important skill: networking, which is definitely one of the coolest part of the job. I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the country, rub shoulders with writers, explorers, leaders, high-ranking government oﬃcials like the Secretary of the Interior and interns alike. Let’s not forget watching the fireworks over the Washington Monument from the roof of the Main Interior Building!
What’s your most memorable/magical SCA moment?
One of my most memorable SCA moments took place last year, when I received the honor of speaking to the SCA Board of Directors and guests. I had an opportunity to share the stage with Liz Titus Putnam, SCA’s founder (SHE introduced ME! Talk about role reversal) and Dale Penny, then President /CEO. Nervous and small can only BEGIN to describe how I felt. But it was a tremendous honor to share my story and how SCA had inﬂuenced my life in a fashion that encouraged those present to continue to make it possible for others.
Another of my most magical SCA moments still plays a big factor in why I stay connected today. On the last night of the 2012 NPS and SCA Academy, 30 interns sat in front of a fire sharing kudos and thanks, supporting each other and commenting on the strong connections and bonds that they had formed. As with many SCA end-of-session events, there were hugs, laughter, and even some tears (though not from me). But what made this moment magical was the fact that all of us were strangers only a week before! The strong sense of community that ﬂows through the veins of every SCA program has been transfused into me and is something I seek to implement everywhere I go. And of course, what’s more magical than breaking out into a tear-filled rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly” in front of a fire under the stars?
How has SCA inﬂuenced your life/career/career plans?
SCA played a role in changing my life by bringing me back to the central ideas of humanity, the core themes of community and connection. When I first became involved with SCA, I had lost sight of these important pillars. But the reminder of being connected to people, forming a community, and using that power to inﬂuence change on others, our environment, and the conservation world helped to give me a fresh start and a new beginning.
Now, I am growing as a conservation leader, and seek to pay forward all that I have learned during my time with SCA. I am always looking for chances to be a steward of both place and people, while creating opportunities for others to do the same.
THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NATURE: A New Generation Works for the Human Right to Connect With the Natural World and a Healthy Environment
In August, more than 50 people came together on Washington’s Bainbridge Island for the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders Legacy Camp, held at the Islandwood campus. Connecting people to the natural world was the central theme. We learned about leadership styles, networking, team building, community organizing, communicating, and how to effectively tell our individual stories. Not only did we learn, but we formed deeper connections within ourselves, with the natural world, and with others who came from many different places and backgrounds.
Fifty years ago to the month, more than 250,000 people left Washington D.C. emboldened in a similar way, towards a different cause, but inspired just the same. On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his now famous “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most inﬂuential and memorable speeches of the 20th century. This eloquent oration called for an end to racism in the United States and was a key part of the demonstration for support of the civil rights legislation then in the works. Read more…
WHY I WEAR JORDANS IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS: A Natural Leader Builds Bridges Between Worlds
I am an African American Natural Leader. That phrase is not an oxymoron, but it’s also not something that you normally see in the environmental world. In the few years that I have been involved in environmental education and connecting people with outdoor spaces, there have been numerous occasions where I am the only person of color in the prog ram, or the only African American leader. Growing up, there was no one from my neighborhood traveling, hiking, canoeing, or spending time outdoors unless it was a part of a regimented program.
But do not misunderstand the meaning behind that statement, do not miss my point. On my feet as I write are Jordan Bred 11’s, the only pair of Michael Jordan’s sneakers I have ever owned in my life. Read more…
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