I spend at least 20 minutes outside every day.
I was born and raised in New Jersey by a loving and supportive set of parents, and I have a younger Brother who just started college. I grew up building fairy houses in my backyard and saving spiders from untimely deaths (to this day I have never knowingly killed a spider).
My first ever internship was with USGCC my second semester of my freshmen year at college in LA- I submitted a rudimentary resume and cover letter, in which both CEO Michelle Thatcher somehow saw potential and offered me a virtual marketing position. The next semester was filled with phone calls, email communication and, one of my favorite things to do, crossing things off my to-do lists. It is important to recognize that being able to intern as a college undergraduate takes time and resources that are not available to everyone. I am fully cognizant of this privilege, and am very thankful that my school and my parents have let me have such freedoms. My time at USGCC was the catalyst of a long road towards a career in international environmental policy. Since then, I have had the opportunity to explore various different kinds of green jobs, and my passion for environmental affairs has grown exponentially.
I spent last semester in Washington D.C., interning and taking classes at night. I worked with an environmental nonprofit as an Environmental Peacebuilding research intern, doing research on post-conflict natural resource management. My courses in D.C. familiarized me with D.C. politics and augmented my interest in international environmental affairs.
I have always been an avid hiker and backpacker, and get a thrill from being alone in nature. As the self-appointed trip planner and leader of my outdoorsy group of college friends, my most fond memories of college so far have been in the Mojave Desert with my friends, a full moon, and some vegan hot dogs. Thus, for 2 months over the summer, I worked through WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). I stayed on a vegan animal farm in Port Angeles, Washington, then on an organic peony farm in Homer, Alaska. I was responsible for the care of over one hundred farm animals, and coordinated the work schedules of the other workers. I am now an expert weed-er (I just might be the fastest in the lower 48), and an experienced gardener. Taking care of plants is self-meditative and therapeutic- qualities that not many people in the middle of LA get to experience. My “wwoofing” experience not only brought me closer to nature (as I needed to escape the incessant political jargon of D.C.), but further defined my passion for gardening and herbology. It opened my eyes to the versatility of the green job market- there is potential for sustainability everywhere you look.
This spring, I will be studying abroad and conducting research on the conservation efforts of faith communities in Gaborone, Botswana. Through both interfaith nonprofits and futurist think-tanks, I have done abstract research on this intersection over the last year. I plan to implement tangible case studies while in Botswana, and have received funding from various sources.
My experiences thus far, although somewhat disconnected, all serve as proof that the green job market is expanding. There are sustainable opportunities in every niche, you just have to look in the right place (read: spend time outside, and you’ll find what you are looking for).
Written by: Brooke Helstrom (former USGCC intern)