Walla Walla Backyard Stream Team
Working for the Walla Walla Backyard Stream Team has been a really good experience for me. I have been submerged into the community of Walla Walla and I have seen intimately how a non-profit environmental organization operates. This internship has presented me with an opportunity to have a meaningful role in the organization.
The most frequent commitment has been weekly meeting with Judith Johnson—the coordinator of the organization—to go over objectives. I also attended a pot-luck meeting with some of the members which really exposed how the organization operates. These meetings have been useful to maintain steady forward progress, but I feel like there needed to be a bit more structure.
Having two main projects was also a plus. Coordinating workdays for native plant restoration at Fort Walla Walla allowed me to get my hands dirty and make a difference, while it also gave me a chance to orchestrate volunteers. The pledge booklet distribution project has expanded the scope of this internship to a major project truly impacting the watershed in a less direct, but larger scale. Unfortunately I believe the native plant restoration project has overshadowed this part of the internship, simply because there has been so much work to do.
Furthermore, I have felt the Walla Walla Backyard Stream Team has been disorganized and uninvolved with this aspect of the project. Unfortunately, almost each member of the Stream Team has full time obligations, and this seems like it is their side project. That is ok, but I feel there has been a lack of involvement from other members. Judith has done a lot to help us coordinate this project, but it would have been very useful to sit down with other member of the organization on a more regular basis to create a concrete plan for passing out the booklets. It has been difficult to get campus involvement for this project because of the timing. Basically this project was put in the hands of myself and my co-intern with simple directions, and little support. I believe we could have been more successful if we had more involvement with the authors of the project. I think that if the distribution would have been scheduled sooner we could have also had more campus involvement. This is a difficult time to get students off campus, and because we were not able to get students involved, for whatever reason, the success of the project may have been compromised. Working with other members of the organization may have provided a broader field of volunteers to try to coordinate a more successful distribution.
Getting out into the community and speaking to people has been the most enjoyable, and interesting experience I have had. Talking to people about how they can make a difference in their backyard has gone over with a mixed reception as expected. It is exceedingly frustrating when someone closes a door on you before they know who you are. Likewise, it is aggravating to talk to someone simply looking to take your ethics on in a verbal scrap. Fortunately, not all people have received the project this way. Talking to people who are genuinely interested in what the project is about, is a rewarding feeling.
Overall I believe working for the Stream Team will be an experience I will draw from later on. I regret that this project lacked organization, but I believe it has still been successful. At present there are a few more sections that need to be canvassed and have pledge booklets handed out, but with the Stream Team and my co-intern and I, they will get done. I would look forward to working with this organization in the future, and I feel like I have learned a lot about non-profits and would like to know more.