Hey there! Odds are if you've found your way to this blog, you or someone you know is an EPI Alumni. Welcome! My name is Sierra, EPI's Alumni Program Coordinator and experiential education fanatic. I'd like to tell you a little bit about how I got involved in this work, what our alumni programs are all about, and the exciting developments yet to come!
What made you interested in this position, and in EPI?
Born and raised in Park City, Utah, my interest in environmentalism began growing up with access to healthy ecosystems and protected public lands. The love of clean, green spaces took me to the University of Montana, where I studied Environmental and International Development Studies here in Missoula, home of our U.S EPI office. A semester spent taking college courses in the backcountry of the Colorado Plateau was all I needed to know that environmental education was the field I wanted a career in. Learning by exploring, discussing, and recreating was profoundly more engaging and interesting than anything I'd ever learned in a classroom.
After graduating college, I took just about any job in the environmental sector I could get my hands on. Some weren't exactly glamorous, like squeezing tourists into wetsuits for rafting trips or digging through dumpsters to help businesses better understand their waste stream. I served three terms of service with AmeriCorps and would happily chat with anyone considering AmeriCorps as a professional development opportunity!
I joined the EPI family in February 2022 and am beyond stoked to be here. Connecting with young environmentalists about their specific passions and dreams is the fulfilling type of work I've always wanted. Having opportunities to work in the field is another aspect of the job I love, whether that be as a co-instructor or participant myself! Getting out of my Rocky Mountain comfort zone and into the Gulf of California on a Baja Ecology course was the best way to get to know our educational framework imaginable.
Outside of work, you can usually find my dog Waffles and me enjoying some cones at Dairy Queen.
Describe your role as alumni program coordinator.
My main role is connecting people who have gone on courses with EPI to job, internship, scholarship, educational, and volunteer opportunities under the umbrella of conservation. On our Alumni webpage, you'll find a weekly updated list of entry-level conservation internships and career listings from organizations around the US!
Our alumni are eligible to earn up to $500 to fund a conservation project of their design through EPI's Alumni Leadership Award. Some projects that received funding this year include educational solar panel demonstrations, youth leadership workshops, a children's book about wolf conservation, and greenhouse renovations. If you or an Alumnus you know is feeling inspired after getting home from an EPI course and want to bring positive change to your school or community, the Alumni Leadership Award is the place to start!
What's in store for the future of the Alumni Program?
Right now, we are developing multiple internships across our organization specifically for our Alumni. The internships, both in the field and the office, will be hosted at all of our program sites: the U.S, Galapagos, Belize, Mexico, and Costa Rica. These are prime opportunities for those looking for an introduction to environmental work, whether that be from an administrative or field perspective!
Eventually, our partners and other organizations will hold positions specifically for EPI Alumni, like we currently have with our Bitterroot Wildlife Internship.
Above all else, we want to ensure our alumni's conservation journey doesn't end once they're out of the field. I am here to help make that happen, and encourage all of our alumni to reach out and use me as a resource!