Five Years Out, and a Lifetime of Conservation Work to Come

Recently, at my synagogue Congregation Rodeph Shalom in New York City, a rabbi shared his desire to learn about bread baking. Hearing this sermon reminded me of baking bread on Student Conservation Association (SCA) high school crews during my summer recess. I returned home a few hours later and checked my email. In my inbox was an email from SCA asking me to complete a five-year out survey.

I wondered if it had really been five years since my first SCA crew in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia! I searched frantically in my inbox for an answer, and after finding an email congratulating me on my placement on this crew, it had been confirmed that my first SCA crew had been in 2012!

While completing my survey I answered questions about my life in the years following my crew in West Virginia. In five years, I have gone from a rising high school junior with a passion for environmentalism to a senior in college who still has a passion for the conservation, but am now seeing the importance of it from the inside.

This past summer, I returned to my conservation roots and served as a marketing and communications intern with the Prospect Park Alliance in Brooklyn, New York. Much like a tree, my practice of stewardship has unique roots and branches that will always be connected. John Muir, the celebrated environmentalist and conservationist once said, “Trees go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves…” I came back to environmentalism because sometimes, roots give us the strength to rediscover our passions.

Since my first SCA crew in 2012, I have remained in contact with my crew leaders and the friends I made. When eight people decide to live in the woods, they form bonds that will last a lifetime. The friends I made on SCA crews are some of the smartest people I have ever met, and their dedication to conservation is evident when I see their photos of continued service.

In the past few years, some of of my friends and I have gone back to visit our work sites. Last year, I visited Harpers Ferry and was in awe of the rich landscape and the Jamestown Worm Fence my crew had constructed. The branches of the tree had far extended our time in the park.

What has made my SCA experience even more formative and enduring is the bond that is has created between my dad and I. He and my mom even came back to see the Jamestown Worm Fence with me. “When Julia told me about SCA’s National Park Crews I encouraged her to apply. After she served on crews in three different parts of our country, I believe it's the best idea I ever heard about for students interested in doing something really significant for the environment and for themselves. Visiting one of the parks where she worked a few years later and seeing what they accomplished was an added thrill."

Since my service, my dad has been inspired to serve SCA through its’ ConSERVE events. “Julia’s enthusiasm for the environment induces me to do all I can to help her. I am her chauffeur to help her get to service events she can’t reach by public transportation, and once I am there I pitch in too.”

In 2014, the two of us were named SCA’s Earthsavers of the month. That was such an honor for us. We are so lucky that SCA events give family members an opportunity to support each other while working side-by-side to serve the planet. It has been a thrill to work with my Dad on so many projects I am passionate about.

When I arrived in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on a hot, sticky day in mid-July, I remember a piece of advice my dad shared with me. He told me, "connect with the land, find your passion and stick with it." To this day, I live by these words. Passion is a measurement of joy. My experiences with SCA brought me joy and inspire me to this day. I'm happy to say we partake in meaningful conservation work together, because that shared connection to the land has brought us closer together.

Impact should be measured on its power to give life to new ideas, but also remind us of where we once stood. That to me is the impact of my experiences with SCA and I am so happy to have been able to share that with my dad!