by Macy Schmidt, 2021-2022 AmeriCorps Riparian Habitat Stewardship and Volunteer Projects Coordinator
Backyard rivers, creeks, and streams and the sound of the wind rustling through the leaves of an alder. The thorns of a blackberry cane prick me and tug on my jeans, leaving a little bit of itself in me. There are so many places I’ve been, so many views of mountains and farms and trees. I remember first starting at KCD on a restoration crew with the Washington Conservation Corps in October of 2020 and being absolutely blown away by the work I was able to do. To transform a landscape in a matter of days, to watch plants that I worked into the ground grow the following spring — sending out new branches and leaves. To be outside year-round, in the mud and rain and snow and know I’m making a difference for landowners, wildlife, the natural landscape, and in small part, the world.
I transitioned from a restoration crew to the shoreline individual placement position in the fall of 2021, still an AmeriCorps member through the WCC. Transitioning to a role within KCD was exciting, it was like hopping across rocks to get to the other side of the site and seeing a completely different story. I was learning about the project planning process: site visits, Landowner Incentive Program, choosing projects and prioritizing maintenance and deadlines. Seeing what goes on before a site is prepped and planted made the world of restoration seem so much bigger, full of life and ideas and lots of work.
This year I have learned and grown so much and have been able to explore and experience a variety of new fields within KCD. I’ve gone monitoring with the forestry team, been on site visits with the riparian and farm teams, visited homes for wildfire safety assessments, have participated in the plant sale, Envirothon, and Orca Recovery Day. I went to Trees for Rail site visits and helped plant. I spent three days under the ponderosa pines in Leavenworth for WADE, listening and learning from other conservation districts in the state.
I can’t believe my time has come to a close. Moving forward, I will take all I’ve gained with me, utilizing my skills and knowledge to continue on in the field of conservation. Looking back on my time with KCD fondly.
In only a matter of months I will be leaving to begin my next journey in Australia on a working holiday visa. For a year, I will be able to live and work anywhere in the country. I’m excited for this opportunity and hopeful that during and after my time there I will be able to continue working with and for the land, the people, and the wildlife.