Natasha served with the Confluence AmeriCorps Program in 2013-14 as the Tree Plan Outreach Coordinator with Portland Parks and Recreation. We caught up with her over email to see what amazing things she's been up to since Serving.
Why did you join Confluence?
I was fresh out of college and eager to find work experience that involved community involvement and GIS. I was thrilled to be accepted for such a meaningful role--not only for the outreach aspect, but also "for the trees." I had been volunteering on the Street Tree Inventory with Urban Forestry for a few years prior to being accepted as the Tree Plan Outreach Coordinator, and I was excited to help other tree stewards use the inventory data to improve their community forest. On a human-level, Confluence's message of social justice and inclusion within the environmental movement appealed to me.
What were some of the most important things you learned during your term?
I learned that environmental justice will not be solved within an 11-month AmeriCorps term, and that any environmental justice effort takes serious relationship-building with the communities that you want to serve. Being the first Confluence AmeriCorps member with Urban Forestry, my efforts were ultimately just laying a foundation for future AmeriCorps members to continue the good work. Event facilitation--especially being prepared for adverse weather--was one important skill that I picked up. I also learned the importance of tracking your work activities--such as the number of volunteers that show up to your events, or saving a template of something that you created--and, as a result, I realized that my personality lends well to swimming in details. The most important learning experience, though, was discovering "self-care" and discovering that it is OK to refill your figurative cup so that you can continue to give.
What are you up to now?
I still work with Urban Forestry and have worked in a variety of field and administrative capacities since my AmeriCorps service. Though I no longer work in an education and outreach capacity, I am learning new skills related to regulation, communication, and field operations. Confluence and Urban Forestry have both been extremely supportive as I continue to "figure it out" as a twenty-something, and for that I am extremely grateful. I am still debating whether to take the grad school plunge.
How did your time with Confluence prepare you for next steps in your career/life path?
As a result of my time with Confluence, I now better respect my inner urge to strike out and see new places, or take hikes, or try other intimidating activities. My sense of self has been enhanced in ways that I could not imagine.
What's a really great song?
"Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" by Selena
"Africa" by Toto
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" by John Denver
Any song with a dance beat, 80s sound, or nostalgic twang. It's too hard to pick just one.