There’s not a much better way to spend time than finding what you’re passionate about and using that passion to improve the world around you. You’ll even start to see yourself in a new light – as a leader, a catalyst to change, a champion. In my case, passion comes in the form of helping people, animals, and the environment, and, as a Bonner Fellow with Rocky Mountain Field Institute, I feel like I can do exactly that.
The Bonner Fellowship, launched by Colorado College’s Community for Collaborative Engagement (CCE), is a nationwide internship program dedicated to fostering students’ passions for community engagement and ensuring their personal and professional growth through the help of Bonner partners, such as RMFI. It does this by choosing students based off merit and understanding of community engagement to partner with local not-for-profit organizations to participate in meaningful work that is mutually beneficial for the fellow, the organization, and the community.
As the Bonner Fellow with Rocky Mountain Field Institute, I began my Colorado Springs adventure into the outdoors by first making sure that there is an outdoors to begin with! I moved to Colorado Springs from Miami, Florida to attend Colorado College, where I hope to study Organismal Biology and Ecology. Living in South Florida, I was able to volunteer with the National Park Service, where I first discovered my passion for conserving and preserving public lands. You can imagine that I wanted to do something similar in Colorado, especially since we have some of the best natural resources in the country (in my opinion). Being partnered with an organization built on the commitment to community is exciting for me, because I get to work with people who are equally as passionate as I am, if not more, about protecting public lands so that they can be accessible for everyone.
In the few months I have been a Bonner Fellow, I have learned a lot about greater Southern Colorado’s natural resources and how to serve them. However, there are still oodles of things I’m excited to learn! One of my most notable new experiences is when I attended a tool maintenance workshop toward the end of the 2017 field season. I had almost no idea what I was doing, because I had never used tools like the McCloud or the cheerleader before my job at RMFI. So, I tried to follow along with what the field instructors were doing, and you know what? I’m pretty sure I failed. But that’s okay! Because, by the end of the day, I learned how to sharpen a pick-mattock!
All in all, being the new addition to the RMFI team has been nothing but rewarding. From the amazing staff and dedicated volunteers to the work, whether at a desk inputting data or at Garden of the Gods putting down EC (erosion control) matting, I have thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with RMFI, and I look forward to all the new experiences still to be had! And I’ll be sure to keep them documented all the way through!
The Bonner Fellow,