Tell me about your roots!
Caring for and connecting with nature is the cultural thread on which my life is built. My younger sister and I grew up hunting and recreating in northeastern Nevada and Idaho with our friends, parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents. My mom, a retired science teacher and my dad, a forester, taught me to be inquisitive, nurturing, and appreciative of the amazing world in which we live.
Where does your interest in conservation stem from?
My dad. I always knew that I’d work in the environmental field; I didn’t know life could happen any other way. Because of this, I never considered studying natural resources in college. Instead, I focused on engineering, health, and leadership. I want people to become their best selves, and I believe this happens in large part when they are connected with their environments, and more specifically, with wild and scenic places. I fell in love with guiding people in the backcountry – rafting, climbing, skiing, caving, backpacking, biking – designing and facilitating endeavors that empower folks. The outdoors has always served as a catalyst within my own little sanctuary to process and overcome my fears, explore new perspectives, and strip away the chaos that builds up from day to day. It brings clarity and compassion, excitement and humility, adventure and resilience. It teaches us the true art of life: to experience life’s opposing emotions at the same time with grace. I work to connect these essential gifts from nature with others.
What brought you to the Eastern Sierra?
If you’ve ever gone to school, you may remember the feeling as you approach graduation of, “What am I going to do with my life?” I had no idea what I wanted to do as I completed my undergraduate degree from Boise State University in 2011. I ended up serving a 900-hour AmeriCorps term working on a Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crew through the Student Conservation Association. My crew of six, lovingly called the Gnar Crew, spent seven months living out of a truck and cargo trailer, traveling up and down California, Oregon, and Washington. We backpacked into the PCT to improve the trail at different locations for ten days at a time. We then had four days to get to our next spot and “recover” which, to us, meant exploring. We spent the majority of those seven months in the Eastern Sierra, from Silver Pass through the lady lakes basin of the Hoover wilderness and into Lake Tahoe.
In rural Nevada where I grew up, there is a stigma about “California”. I never, ever considered exploring this area, let alone moving here. I wanted nothing to do with California. Working on the PCT unsurprisingly rocked my world and blew my perspective wide open! I lived in the most beautiful spots in the whole state! I fell in love with the vastness of Eastside. And as a bonus, I fell in love with my now-husband, who I sarcastically call the “California boy”. He grew up in Mammoth and Bishop, providing a deep connection to the community here, not just the mountains.
What do you love most about living here?
I love that I can find somewhere magical and someone amazing to play with on any given day, no matter the season or the weather. It is truly a unique location that has so much to offer without being overly crowded.
Do you have a favorite spot on the Eastside?
There are too many favorites, but my heart always circles back to Grass Lake.
What do you look forward to most in your work with ESLT?
This is the first job I’ve had in my field of study! I look forward to applying my experiences gained from my recent graduate degree in organizational leadership and adult learning. Specifically, I am excited to help increase the capacity for diverse populations to experience the wonders nestled in the Eastern Sierra.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love trail running in the Sierras, exploring the vistas from places not commonly traveled. I also love skiing, mountain biking, climbing, rafting, and creating art.
We also say goodbye to Amanda Jaramillo, who served as our previous Membership Coordinator. Thank you for everything, Amanda! We can’t wait to hear about the awesome adventures on your horizon.