Today’s guest post comes from Katie Allowatt, an AmeriCorps volunteer with our partners at the Chehalis Basin Education Consortium in ESD 113, a master’s student at The Evergreen State College…and a former NREP and Student GREEN Congress participant! We were so excited to learn that Katie had gotten her start in science as a 5th grader in the Nisqually watershed and asked her to tell her story about the impact that early environmental education had on her life and career.
Being with nature has been embedded within my life for as long as I can remember. The outdoors presents opportunity for learning without feeling the pressures of the world around me. Over time, my understanding and respect for nature has matured greatly. Living in the Pacific Northwest my whole life has led to adaptation and appreciation for this unique environment. As a young child, this interest had been nurtured and turned into much more than just listening to the rain splatters against the rooftop or climbing trees in dense forests.
The relationship I have had with my natural surroundings was first acknowledged in an academic setting when I was in 5th grade at McKenna Elementary. An event titled Student GREEN Congress, which consisted of activities that promoted protection and restoration of my local Nisqually watershed, changed my entire perspective of the environment. Held at The Evergreen State College, I was completely intrigued by the works presented at this event. As a child I had been told numerous times what I could do with my life. Many of the options that were given to me were told to others my age and ranged from becoming a doctor to being a ballerina. These options did not hold my attention like nature did and continues to do.
After my time at Student GREEN Congress, I decided and learned that I could be a scientist (who knew!). I enjoyed my time and learned plenty at the event, but knew deep down that this work would need to be continued even after the day ended. I now attend The Evergreen State College in their Masters for Environmental Studies program. The work I do now in my academic and professional life has been founded on Student GREEN Congress work. Some people move on from their 5th grade experiences and become doctors or ballerinas: I chose to continue on the path of watershed protection and environmental love. I thank and always think of the many individuals it has taken to continue this important work for our youth.