Why Oregon Wild
Intern Elizabeth Medford discusses choosing to work at Oregon Wild.
As a final culminating assignment, seniors at Catlin Gabel School participate in internships around the city working for a variety of organizations and institutions. Students choose where they will work and who their mentor throughout the month-long experience will be. Like many students, I formulated ideas about what I would do for my senior project during my earlier high school years when I was bored with schoolwork.
While some students use their May to explore topics they will probably not pursue as a career, I decided to use my time to explore one of my many possible future paths. For me this meant something pertaining to environmental activism and probably working for a non-profit.
With a plethora of environmental non-profits in Portland, I decided to do a little self-reflection on the environmental disciplines that matter most to me. I thought back to the most memorable part of my summer, a family road trip to Yellowstone National Park. Throughout my backpacking excursions in the park I had hoped and prayed that I would get to see a large predator. The stories I had heard about grizzly bears and grey wolves in Yellowstone made me hopeful that I would get to witness one of the majestic animals.
One morning on our way out from a backpacking excursion, I came upon recent tracks and scat of a large mammal. I was so excited I could hardly keep myself from running with my pack along the trail. We never did see the animal that left the tracks but just the feeling of stepping where he or she had stepped left an impression on me. In the end, I was glad that I did not see any large predators because this told me that the animals still had an aversion to humans and had enough space to avoid human contact.
I chose Oregon Wild for my internship based on this interaction with nature and based on my studies of conservation ecology during high school. In environmental science class we spoke of the controversial nature of many conservation efforts and just how many different opinions can evolve. As a young person still forming my opinions on conservation methods, I see Oregon Wild as an organization generally with a middle opinion on issues. Take the case of wolves for example, despite their goal of protecting and supporting Oregon’s wolf populations, the organization leans away from a strict no-kill policy and falls somewhere in the middle of the different stakeholders.
Looking specifically with Rob Klavins at the reintroducing wolves into Oregon struck me as a great cause to focus my time on. Studying wolf issues not only exposes me to methods of conservation but also methods of mediation during political conflict; important in any political work I may do in the future. I can see myself doing a variety of different jobs after I graduate from college and hope to use these next three weeks to gauge my interest in and opinions about conservation efforts.