Just like that, my first year as a college undergraduate is coming to a close. As a Bonner Fellow at Rocky Mountain Field institute and as a Colorado College student, I have gone through unmeasurable personal and professional growth during this academic year. This article is a reflective post about the impact the experience of being a fellow with RMFI has had on me.
Throughout my time at RMFI, I have been involved in a lot of important initiatives and projects. Among my favorites were definitely helping build our diversity in the outdoors efforts and being involved with meeting volunteers both in the field and at special events, such as with the end-of-the-year RMFI ShinDIG. In my experiences with these events and with the RMFI staff and volunteers, I have taken away so much more than I ever would have anticipated. Before coming to Colorado, I felt like I didn’t know anything about what the people and what the environment were going to be like. Especially coming from a place where my life centered around the water and diverse groups of people, I found it especially challenging to be in an area where the environment was so vastly different than what I was used to, both in a natural and a social sense. However, working in Colorado Springs’ public lands has broadened my ability to engage with the environment and the communities within Colorado Springs.
One of the toughest parts about coming to Colorado College and even RMFI was the culture shock. My background and my experiences with life have been in contrast to most others, which produced a sort of imposter syndrome. Nevertheless, the RMFI family has been so welcoming and interested in learning more about me - and I them. Since starting back in September, I have gradually become part of the RMFI and Colorado Springs community, and I am so proud to be able to have contributed to its environmental well-being over the past year. Should I be here until I graduate, I hope to keep contributing to the efforts RMFI makes to improve and maintain Southern Colorado’s public lands. The impact made by the office staff, field staff, interns, and especially volunteers is priceless, and it has been my pleasure to be a part of it!