Last night ELAW hosted its annual Spring volunteer appreciation party. The night was filled with tasty food, good friends, and the always anticipated speech from the Executive Director Bern Johnson.
I have been volunteering with ELAW since last fall. I first heard about ELAW in one of my environmental studies classes at the University of Oregon, when Bern and staff attorney Jen Gleason came to speak about the field of environmental law. To tell you the truth, I was pretty surprised that a place doing the type of work ELAW does is based in Eugene. I couldn’t pass up a chance to ask Bern if they had any volunteer/internship opportunities. I was put in contact with Lauren and, well, the rest is history.
Over the past two terms I have received credit through the environmental studies program for my work at ELAW. Yesterday, before the party, I gave my final presentation to my advisor on my experience with ELAW. During my presentation I was asked to address how working at ELAW connects to my environmental studies major. At first, this seemed like a question that would take no thought. Everything I have done at ELAW connects directly to the goals of the environmental studies program, whether it’s research into bonefish habitats in Belize, or helping Lauren around the office and gaining non-profit management skills. But the more I thought about the question, I started to realize my presentation on ELAW was the final step in coming full circle and gaining a true environmental studies experience. From first hearing Bern and Jen speak in my environmental studies class, to volunteering and getting credit, and finally, to presenting on my work at ELAW to my advisor and fellow students, who will hopefully be interested in coming to help out ELAW themselves.
I plan on attending many more volunteer parties in the future, because this experience is too good to pass up.
[Editor’s note: Jake has volunteered more than 100 hours in the past six months! We have been thrilled to have him help out and hope he’s going to stick around . . .]