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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Puget Creek, Tacoma, Washington, USA

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Puget Creek, Tacoma, Washington, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Puyallup
Posts: 1
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Ever since childhood, nature has captured my heart. Growing up in the Evergreen State with a father who loves to see the world for its natural beauty has influenced and encouraged my love for life. Traveling with my family since I was 3 has opened my eyes to many different cultures, languages, and beautiful places, as well as began my passion for adventure and new experiences. After years spent traveling and witnessing the diversity of the globe, I wanted to give back to this beautiful earth somewhere a bit closer to home. Alas, Puget Creek found me.
Puget Creek is located in Tacoma, Washington and is cared for by the Puget Creek Restoration Society which is devoted to protecting, enhancing, and restoring the Puget Creek Watershed back to its natural habitat. Before joining the society, I had volunteered at the hospital, but I knew that I wanted to volunteer outside where I could witness this new program’s impact on the community and habitat. Puget Creek allowed that to happen. Unlike the hospital, I was surrounded by an abundance of life, positive energy, and fresh air. Puget Creek provided a flexible schedule for my busy lifestyle and confronted me with something new each time.
The Puget Creek Restoration Society has the constant goal of restoring the creek to its natural state, but it’s more than just a creek. Starting from an underground spring, Puget Creek is one of the few remaining salmon-bearing streams within Tacoma, Washington. It supports the growth of natural wildlife and provides a walking trail and picnic area for the community as well. By caring for the creek, the restoration society maintains a home and place of recreation for all walks of life and the generations to come.
Every day has different goals in store because there is always something new to be done. It’s common to find me hauling wheelbarrows up and down the trail, balancing on hillsides and steep ladders, on my hands and knees pulling Ivy, lifting heavy logs, or using weed wrenches on Holly or Laurel. Saying that I have laid out wooden plank paths over muddy wetlands, planted trees, and manned information booths hardly covers a glimpse of what I have done as an intern for Puget Creek. By now after two years of volunteer service, I’ve done everything from bird watching on a misty Saturday morning to walking in the Puget Sound with a GPS whilst wearing some very flattering hip waders.
In the field, the learning never ends. My mentor (who is also president of the society) has taught me how to use scientific technology such as water quality monitoring equipment. This tests the pH, oxidation, temperature, and conductivity of the water at multiple points in the creek which can indicate if something is affecting the water and what sort of critters can be living in it. The Hypo-hatchet was another interesting piece of equipment. It works just like a regular hatchet except it has a hole near the blade that emits a photosynthesis-prohibiting chemical into the plant. It’s a slow death but perfect for putting an end to large invasive plants while not harming others nearby. Along with teaching me how to use technology and tools, Puget Creek has provided me with basic skills that may be used throughout life.
Leadership was not always a strong characteristic of mine, but Puget Creek helped change that. Oftentimes, my mentor bestowed upon me the title “Crew Leader” when groups of volunteers from Boy Scouts, United Way, or elsewhere came out to lend a helping hand. When I first began, everything was new and foreign to me, but now with over 200 hours under my belt, I’ve gained the experience needed to lead others confidently in restoration work. Seminars about salmon, the soil, other organizations, obtaining grants, and more have made me better informed and consequently a better crew leader. No longer do I only tell volunteers what to do, but how and why they’re doing it by informing them about Puget Gulch and the wildlife. This responsibility at the creek has transformed me into a better leader which was increasingly helpful when I became a captain for my high school swim team.
Volunteering for a cause that impacts so many different people and animals has its own impact on me. It makes me feel good knowing that I made a positive influence on the habitat and community. Volunteers always leave with a sense of purpose, feeling good about their selves, and hopefully knowing something new. Restoration is a never ending process, but with the help of many volunteers, a well-used trail has been kept maintained, the native wildlife is prospering, the plants are now mostly native, and the creek has slowly begun to welcome returning salmon to spawn. Families and dog walkers alike thank me on the trail for contributing my time and effort to the community, but that’s not really necessary. It’s enough to watch the area slowly improve through each season. Seeing the deer, the harbor seals, and other animals coexist with the city of Tacoma absolutely amazes me and makes my work with Puget Creek seem worth it. Every moment spent at the creek confirms my love for the outdoors and influences me to strive for a future in the environmental field.
Date: December 25, 2010 Views: 7015 File size: 28.2kb, 1806.1kb : 2272 x 1704
Hours Volunteered: 222
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 26.4
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