Tuesday, May 1, 2018

HCCA Internship Wrap-Up

    As the school year comes to a close, so does my internship with HCCA. When I first thought of non-profit conservation work, I thought of "fighting" on the front lines towards their causes and getting my hands dirty in the field. Although this is a big part of non-profit conservation work, one of the largest pieces that gets overlooked is the work done to plan events to get their work done or raise money and outreach and communicate to it's members or followers about these events and other causes. All of the emails, letters, volunteer coordination and event planning gets done in the background and really creates the structure for a non-profit's progress.
    I learned a ton during this semester with HCCA that I can use--and have used already--both in school and with other non-profits or organizations that I do/will work with. I have gained experience with soliciting donations, event advertisements, promoting an organization to gain support verbally or monetarily, organized event structure/agenda, organize volunteers, write concise and interesting informational "blurbs" to teach members about important topics, keeps members engaged through emails, newsletters, letters, and cards, and begin to think about ways to connect HCCA with more students at Western.
    Since joining HCCA as a member this past summer and now having worked for them for a semester, I have been able to see two sides of this conservation non-profit. This past summer I was able to volunteer with them and participate in cleanups, restoration work, and attend member events getting to follow along and hear about HCCA's work. Although this internship wasn't exactly what I was expecting when joining the HCCA team, it was really cool to be able to work on the other side of what I had experienced before and gain new skills that I will definitely utilize.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

WMP Meeting Success!

    Last Thursday was the Watershed Management Planning Meeting Event. Everything came together: the volunteers, the speakers, and the attendees. The presentations were solid, the questions asked and answers given were great and informative, and I think I did a good job of mediating the meeting. Once the meeting started, I knew it was going to go well, but I was nervous about representing all views on this issue. Water issues can get pretty heated and I didn't want to push anyone away from this conversation by saying something wrong. I tried to make my questions very general in order to prevent this from happening and not show an agreeing viewpoint while asking questions because I wanted to be neutral. The panel questions turned out to be really great and even stirred up conversation from the audience. Overall, it was a success!
    I know it may seem like I'm going way out of my way in order to stay neutral, but in our current political climate I think this is so important. Instead of letting my generation become as polarized as generations before us have become, I want to spread this idea of coming at an issue as neutral. This doesn't mean that you can't take a side on an issue; taking sides are how discussion and conversations are successful because there are differing viewpoints to keep the conversation going. In order to have a productive future when it comes to the effects of climate change or the future of our watershed, we need to have an open mind when going after solving it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

WMP Event Planning

    Event planning is off and running! The room is booked, the final details are being worked out, and volunteers are being recruited. I have recruited students from one ENVS class so far and am onto another this afternoon to do the same. I have given group one tasks of emailing clubs on campus, creating posters, submitting PSAs to newsletters and radio stations, and creating a food list to purchase for the event. Each student only has one small task out of these and will give them experience setting up/advertising for an event. Group two will be tasked with distributing posters and flyers around campus and around the community and emailing any of the remaining groups on the list.
    This biggest piece I've been trying to figure out is how to structure the actual event itself. Is a panel the best way to go? What about just presentations? Should we go over the long survey that's available to the public? I want this to not only be an informational event, but an entertaining event as well. I want this to not only be a learning event but an engaging one. Under what event format will I be able to achieve both of these? This is what I'll be working on this week the most.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Watershed Management Planning

    One of HCCA's largest goals for this year is looking at watershed management planning as the population of the west continues to grow and the demand for water increases. Since our community is at one of the major headwaters of the Colorado, we have both the responsibility to manage it in a way that provides for our community, but also provides for other communities down stream. The biggest piece of watershed management is planning so that each use of water can be met. These uses range from agriculture to recreation. These management steps are taken in order to protect our current water needs so if implications should arise in the future, the plans to solve them have already been thought through.
    Combining my internship's goal of outreach and connecting Western to HCCA and a service learning project for one of my classes, I have decided to put on a Watershed Management Planning Meeting. The goal of this meeting is to inform students and the community about watershed management, why it's important, and what they can do to help. This meeting will include speakers from all different backgrounds: Julie Nania from HCCA, Jesse Kruthaupt from Trout Unlimited, and Frank Kugel from the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District. They will give short presentations from their point of view on this issue and how the valley is working to move forward on watershed management.
    Students from ENVS 100 classes will be helping me get everything in order. Together, we will make posters, contact clubs around campus, send out PSA's to newspapers and radio stations, and brainstorm how to advertise this event in other ways. It's important to get this topic as far out there as we can because it really can affect everyone. Survey's will be handed out during this event as well. The more feedback we can get about this process the better. The more diverse feedback we can get the even better off that we are! It's so important to get points of view from a large range of people from different backgrounds in order to make watershed management decisions about a resource used by all.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Informing the Public on Local Topics

    As a conservation association, it's part of the mission of the organization to bring people together and to strengthen the community around your local environment. Not only should the organization work on specific issues, but should be a place to learn more information about the environment and the places they protect as well. My job this past week has been to put together some informational paragraphs that HCCA can use in their newsletters, emails, and outreach materials. The topics I've been researching include land use designations, the tracking of environmental legislation and the navigation of NEPA and the ESI, the current state of our snow pack, drought in the Colorado River Basin, and trends in earlier runoff (tied to climate and other influences). These topics are extremely important this year, as we experience high winter temperatures and a very low snowfall year.
    Although I strive to keep a continuous flow of knowledge about local issues or topics connected to them, I had to research quite a bit of information. A couple of these topics stood out for different reasons. One of the biggest pieces of information I have learned since moving to Colorado has been about land designations and their uses. I had never visited a wilderness area before and although I knew about them, I had never experienced their (mostly) untouched beauty. Since I like to get out there as much as I can, I was quick to learn about all of these different areas and what they're used for. This one was easy to describe and write about because it's something that I've looked into a lot. Tracking environmental legislation and navigating NEPA and the ESI was something I didn't know much about. I knew a couple of databases and sites that were good for tracking environmental legislation, but I was a foreigner when it came to NEPA and ESI. Drought in the Colorado River Basin was tricky because I knew of the effect of drought in Wisconsin on its flat, agricultural lands. With this topic, however, I had to learn how it affects mountainous regions. This topic is especially relevant because of our low snow year and the worries for the dryer seasons to come.
    Overall, informing the public about different topics can really help to grow a community. In HCCA's case, it helps keep our community get involved in local issues or gets them thinking about topics they may not have thought of before.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

New and Exciting Things Ahead

    Now that the biggest event of my semester and of HCCA's year is over, I can focus on what I've been most excited for during this internship: working on outreach material for HCCA's newsletters, website, emails, and action alerts and connecting Western with HCCA. Although I'm not working on any current projects, I'll let you all know what is in the works for the near future. First, I have a list of prompts from the outreach director to be used to write small blips of information to get our members and beyond pumped about local conservation, protection, and politics. This includes tactics on how to get involved, information to teach our community something new, or just inspiring words to get our members and beyond into action. Second, I have a service learning project for my ENVS 350 course this semester. I want to do something related with local politics as we are engaging the ENVS 100 students in this project and I think it would be a great idea to expose them to local politics firsthand. The outreach director suggested planning and hosting a watershed management planning meeting as this is something that HCCA has in the works for this upcoming year too. Third, I am tasked with finding ways to connect HCCA with Western students in any way I can come up with. At this point I've only thought of tabling at events or combining efforts with existing organizations and groups on campus to put on events or support causes.
    There are lot's of great things coming up for the rest of the semester. I'm definitely excited to see what I can accomplish. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Annual Red Lady Salvation Ball Event!

    This past week was all about the last few preparations for the Ball. I spent the majority of my nights this week creating information sheets about each silent auction prize as well as a bid sheet to accompany them. This was a lot of going back and forth between emails and word documents, finding pictures off of websites, creating descriptions for each prize, and making sure I was listing all of the monetary values correctly. In the end they turned out awesome! A lot of people were pumped about the silent auction prizes, so I'm glad all my help with solicitations was worth it!
    Saturday was the day of the Ball. I met with my internship supervisor, Mel, in the morning to go over the detail of the event later that day. This would help me know what to do and allow me to help other volunteers know what to do too. We then loaded all of the decorations, signs, tables, and such into the car and headed over. Decorating went smoothly. We had 5 people total helping to decorate the entire interior and doorway of The Eldo. Although I originally thought that 5 people was going to be too little of an amount, decorating went smoothly. We covered the inside and the doorway with every red material we had; we even swapped out the white light bulbs for red!
    I was set at the door checking the ticket list, selling tickets, and putting on wristbands. I had no idea how crazy people would dress up for this event! Old prom dresses, red costumes like morph-suits or long suits and top hats, masks, makeup, you name it! The guests attending went all out! Eventually I went to the raffle table and sold raffle tickets and band merchandise. For the rest of the evening I went back and forth between those two stations, helping out where ever I could.
    Although I haven't heard the final total on how many guests attended or what the final total of money raised was, it looked like a good turnout. We didn't come as close to selling out as we wanted, but the silent auction and the raffle sales seemed to go really well! In the end, learning all about setting up a fundraising event that was more than just a regular fundraising event has been a great experience.