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Spreading the word about healthy ecosystems.

Ali Stefancich, River Scientist; Sierra Streams Institute

I believe everyone has the right to be born into a healthy thriving ecosystem, free of disease causing environmental
ali1contaminates, with fertile soil to grow food on, clean water to drink and wild places to feed their souls. I think people should be taught who and what else lives in their bio-region and how to be stewards of that place. Unfortunately today there are very few people who are afforded that luxury. Because this belief is one of my strongest, it’s something that I plan to spend my life working towards. And, serving with SNAP has given me the opportunity to help me advance toward my ideals for the world, all while providing me the opportunity for tremendous personal growth.

Since the beginning of my service now over two months ago (boy how the time flies!), I have had the chance to work on so many wonderful projects with so many magnificent people that it has been an almost overwhelming experience. My team members here at Sierra Streams Institute have welcomed me into their organization with open arms and I have learned how wonderful it is to be working at a nonprofit in a place that is filled with so many willing and dedicated volunteers. Among the things that have made my service so amazing has been the opportunity to work with kids teaching them about watersheds.

This past week I helped to run a Spring Break Program, where I got to teach the kids about watersheds, stream health monitoring, macroinvertebrates, and salmonid life histories. It was such a fascinating challenge to think of creative ways to make learning about these subjects as fun as possible so that the kids would just think they were at camp
ali2playing games and not realize that they were really learning key skills to become budding young scientist. It was also a blast to spend a week outside just running around play with a wild group of kids. I have worked on a variety of other projects at Sierra Streams; helping to monitoring Deer Creek, doing restoration work, sorting macroinvertebrates, and working to create a mammal survey protocol. However, it’s the people that I work with that make my job so inspiring.

My fellow SNAPpers are an amazing group of motivated people creating change in all the communities that they have been placed in, and for the Sierra on a whole. My fellow co-workers at Sierra Streams are dedicated and compassionate, both to the place where they live and the people they work with. Working with people such as these has regenerated my hope for the future and gets me excited to see the impacts my generation will have on the world passing on to future generations. I feel like the beauty of the Sierra invokes in people a kind of land ethic that is not found everywhere in this country and so I am very happy to have found this remarkable place.

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