Written by Taylor Wilson
Hi everyone, I’m back at Soil and Water! I’m taking over for Alexis Warren as the Conservation Technician and Outreach Assistant. I’m very excited to be back and reinvigorate outreach projects from my previous time in this role. I’ll be working on several programs, including the Soil Trailer, Women 4 the Land, social media outreach, the Town and Country Newsletter, maintaining the garden tower, boothing and events, the annual meeting, and the 4h fair.
For those wondering what I did with my time away from the district, I spent a lot of it traveling. The decision to leave was tough. I had lost sight of what motivated me to pursue conservation, and I could feel myself not bringing 100% effort to projects that I knew deserved it. I realized that I had outgrown my place in the world and needed to expand my horizons. I’ve lived my entire life in 2 Indiana towns, I had only traveled to a handful of states, and had never crossed the Mississippi River. To quote Leslie Knope, “The world is a very big place, and I’ve seen very little of it”.
I decided to travel across the country in my car. I hoped to find a place along the way that “called to me” as a place to settle down and continue my career. However, something completely unexpected happened: the more I traveled and the more I saw, the more I appreciated the place I had left. By getting a better grasp of the difference in American cultures, I started to understand the cultural identity of the Midwest more. A huge takeaway for me was understanding the way that the Midwest landscape is functional in nature . We provide so many agricultural products at the expense of losing our native environment and beautiful views. It’s not a bad thing—food has to come from somewhere—but it makes conservation here so important.
Seeing the landscape change from midwestern agriculture to the sandy barren soil of Texas, to bright orange Arizona, to the various landscapes of California, helped me more deeply understand the way the American ecosystem is all connected. I knew that the United States landscape varied, but fully immersing myself in the landscape helped me gain a deep understanding of how connected it is.
All of this confirmed something that I’ve known for a long time. Everything I’ve done, from being a first-generation college graduate, to my professional work, to my personal life, has been an ongoing love letter to the American landscape and the people who occupy it.
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