Former Peace Corps volunteer manages nature preserves in Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties for The Nature Conservancy.

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Joelene Boyd

What do you do? I manage nature preserves in Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties for The Nature Conservancy, including our Fisher Slough and Port Susan Bay Restoration project sites. My job is to make sure these beautiful places are protected, engage community members to build support for conservation, and understand why preserving these places is important.

How did you get started in that field? My interest was initially in biology and animal science, however when I spent two years in Niger, West Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer I realized the important connection between community and the environment. Human health is inextricably linked to a healthy environment even in a part of the world that is so developed as the greater Seattle area.

What’s a typical day like? That’s the best part of my job: There’s no typical day! One day I’m out in the field doing vegetation surveys, another day I’m preparing proposals for funding the important conservation work we do, the next day I’m teaching middle school students the importance of native plants and planting trees at one of our project sites.

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What’s the best part of the job? I work in and get to see some pretty spectacular places, from walking around old growth forests in Whatcom County to canoeing 20 miles down the Sauk River counting bald eagles to standing on the shores of Port Susan Bay being able to see thousands of snow geese or flocks of shorebirds fly around. I get to work in the places folks come to for vacation, and I get to share those places with people, often filling them with awe.

What surprises people about your job? People are surprised that my job involves as much working with people as it does working with nature. As often as I am working outdoors, I am talking with people. I work with community members, volunteers, government leaders, farmers, hunters, educators and recreationalists to gain support for conservation. Everyone has a role in preserving land and water, a healthy environment is not just essential for plants and animals, but also for people.

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