Pipa Elias (pictured above, top row, second on the left), currently the Director of Agriculture, North America at The Nature Conservancy, has several meaningful memories from her SCA internship and work. As we encourage our friends to triple the impact of their gift to SCA, we thought it would be a great opportunity to share Pipa’s favorite parts of her experience, including mementos gathered along the way.
SCA: What three words come to mind when you think of SCA?
Pipa: Empowering. Service. Opportunity.
SCA: Do you still have any keepsakes from your SCA days?
Pipa: A quilt piece made for the U.S. Forest Service’s Centennial. Each quilter made two identical pieces – one went into the quilt, which was given to the Smithsonian, and an extra square. I was an SCA intern supporting the lead of the Forest Service Centennial, and she gave me the quilt piece as a gift after I finished my year-long service. It’s a beautiful tree hung over our mantle that I see every day.
Another item is a lesson plan notebook from my summer teaching environmental education for the DC Urban Crews in 2003. When I look back at the notebook, I see how much I learned and grew that summer.
I also have a water bottle from EarthVision (SCA’s three-day, 50th anniversary convening). It was such a special and fun event that SCA hosted. Plus being from DC, I love the Washington Monument tree.
SCA: Speaking of SCA memories, which ones do you hold most closely after all these years?
Pipa: During my internship with the Forest Service, I saw how many people in conservation loved their jobs. This inspired me to pursue my master’s degree and a career in conservation – where I love my work every day.
Additionally, I worked with a mom who brought her toddler on work trips with her back when this was not common. Her ability to handle it all with such ease stuck with me, and when I had my kids I took them on work trips with me all the time to help my family juggle all our needs. I didn’t know at the time how much seeing that would shape my ability to be a working mom.
To this day, whenever I meet someone else who participated in SCA, I know we have a connection. We’re both dedicated to service and to making a positive impact on the world. That will always be with me.
SCA: Complete the following: “The one thing I’m glad nobody knew about back in my SCA days is _____________________?
Pipa: That my 2002 summer internship inspired my tattoo!
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