On October 1, the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust welcomed six new temporary team members. These future leaders in environmental conservation joined us in partnership with the Washington Service Corps (WSC). WSC is an AmeriCorps program that provides hands-on experience through community service. Our AmeriCorps members spend 10.5 months on the ground throughout our greenway landscape. They play a vital role in our organization as we work to fulfill our mission. They host volunteer events, lead field trips and in-class lessons, and become experts in the field. With their help, we are able to amplify our impact and accomplish so much more. In exchange, we offer them unique learning experiences throughout the year. These opportunities provide context for the cultural and ecological history of this place and offer lessons to carry into their future careers.
Meet this year’s cohort, who will be with the Greenway Trust through August 2020:
Matt Butrim, Restoration Associate
Matt joins the AmeriCorps restoration associate team out of Wesleyan University, where he received a master’s degree in Earth and Environmental Science for studying fossil plants from 66 million years ago. Now back in the present, he looks forward to getting to know the living forests of the Greenway better. Matt spent a season as a prairie restoration technician in central Minnesota, but since he hails from the Snoqualmie Valley, he is eager to give back to the natural places that he grew up in. In his spare time, Matt likes watching baseball, reading/watching sci-fi, and observing raccoons.
Fun fact: Matt helped excavate Triceratops, Ankylosaurus, and T-Rex fossils in Montana!
Favorite spot in the Greenway: Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation
Janessa Hollmaier, Restoration Associate
Janessa graduated from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science in 2015. Post-graduation, she worked in student affairs in higher education as an Academic Advisor and Student Organization Coordinator. Since relocating to Washington, she plans to pursue more opportunities focused on restoring public lands and creating sustainable communities. In her free time, she enjoys biking, cooking, spending time with her dogs, and learning more about hiking and outdoors in Washington.
What drew her to the Greenway Trust? “When I learned about the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and all the organization had accomplished and was continuing to work toward, I was impressed with the effort and determination from a small non-profit, and the organization’s ability to bring so many community partners together in order to succeed. Since starting with the organization a month ago, I can see that everyone truly cares about our partnerships and volunteers, and that our AmeriCorps cohort is valued and appreciated.”
Fun fact: Since graduating from Iowa State in December 2015, she has moved four times: from Iowa to Colorado, to South Carolina, back to Iowa, and to Washington, for a total of about 5,470 miles!
Meg Reesor, Restoration Associate
Meg graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geography, with minors in Environmental Sustainability and Geographic Information Science in December 2017. She completed her first AmeriCorps service term in August 2019 with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, where she worked on a Forest Health Crew in the dunes and forests along Lake Michigan. In her free time, she enjoys biking, visiting farmers markets, playing with her cat, and walking other peoples’ dogs.
Her favorite project with the Greenway Trust so far: “My favorite event with the Greenway Trust so far has been doing trail maintenance with the ‘Women in the Woods’ series on Thorp Creek Trail. I enjoyed building drains on the trail while meeting some amazing women from different backgrounds who all share the same love of the outdoors.”
What she’s most looking forward to during the rest of her term: Working in the native plant nursery this winter, learning about all the different trees and shrubs, as well as getting dirty and potting plants with volunteers!
Evan Romasco-Kelly, Volunteer Program Associate
Evan joins the Greenway Trust’s volunteer program after growing up, studying, and playing in places across Washington state. A recent graduate of Whitman College, Evan previously led volunteer and outreach events for a land trust in Northeastern Oregon, in addition to holding a fellowship assisting with riparian restoration and environmental monitoring in the Walla Walla Basin. He is excited to help connect people with the incredible landscapes of the Greenway and looks forward to learning more about the ecologies and people who call it home. In his free time, Evan can be found appreciating our public lands with a bike, a pair of skis, a rope, or simply his own two feet.
Favorite spot in the Greenway: Chair 2 at Alpental on Snoqualmie Pass
Fun fact: He speaks three languages in addition to English (French, Spanish, and German)!
Michael Sanchez, Restoration Associate
Michael graduated from the University of Washington with a B.S in Environmental Science and Terrestrial Resource Management and a minor in Nutritional Sciences. He has various experience with environmental restoration, education, and GIS mapping in the Seattle area. He enjoys hiking, spending time outdoors, and plant identification. Originally from Yakima, WA, Michael hopes to give back to his community through his diverse environmental experiences for a healthier Yakima Valley.
His favorite project with the Greenway Trust so far: “My favorite project with the Greenway Trust so far has been planting Ponderosa pines and other native shrubs at Wish-Poosh campground. Being able to plant native vegetation in eastern Washington brought me closer to the region I grew up in.”
His greatest passion: “What I’m most passionate about is finding ways to help communities connect with nature and sharing my knowledge to help the next generation of environmentalists. Whether it be showing them how to plant a tree, helping them identify a plant species, or simply taking a hike to the mountains and enjoying nature.”
Val Watson, Education Associate
Val graduated from the University of Maine in 2018 with a degree in ecology and environmental sciences. As a kid, she spent most of her time wandering in the state parks and open spaces of Massachusetts, an experience that she hopes to share with as many others as she can. Since then, she has done field research and science education in Maine, Georgia, and Colorado. This is Val’s first time in Washington and the Pacific Northwest, and she is super excited to learn a new set of critters, plants, ecosystems, and trails! When Val’s not sharing the amazing outdoors with Seattle’s kids, she loves to read, cook, and play outside.
What drew her to the Greenway Trust? “I have a lot of interest in restoration ecology, and I love teaching kids and getting them into the outdoors. This position lets me do both of those things! It’s also awesome to be doing work where I can feel like I’m making real, meaningful changes in the lives of my students and the ecosystems I’m interacting with.”
Her favorite project with the Greenway Trust so far: “My favorite outing so far has been going to the Teanaway to see a large woody materials restoration project going on out there. The Yakama tribe is working on this huge project to add large pieces of wood to the Teanaway River to create resting spots for migrating salmon and restore the river’s natural shape and bed. What they’ve done so far is super impressive, and they’re already seeing salmon using the structures they’re building, which is fantastic. Throughout the trip, I got to learn from their people and from Greenway staff about the Greenway’s history, local ecology, and the projects happening on the eastside.”
Meet some of our AmeriCorps members in person at one of the many volunteer events we’ve got going on! You can find a robust list here.