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A Belated Women’s History Month Post

Karolyn holding up a plastic baG

By Karolyn Preiss, Three Rivers 3 Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member

It has been brought to my attention that there is under-representation of females in the field of Natural Resource Management and Environmental Studies.

I am surprised by this, of course, though I daresay I came into the field through a fairly gender-neutral-to-feminine sort of way. I was nesting! Trying to make a home for myself in a new place. Looking forward to a long-term, real relationship with babies and a dog.

I had student loans but still wanted to feel at home. I just didn’t have a budget. I needed to feel like I had forward momentum in a home full of life and love. With no budget. Or people. Or dogs. Yet.

So, I started upcycling the things that I had into things that could make the space feel more homey. Knick-knack organizational units, larger organizational units, rugs, pillows, art, clothes. All of which were made with old tshirts and pants; soup, coffee, and soda cans.

Holding up an empty picture frame
[Image Description] Holding up an empty picture frame in a living space.
By reusing the resources that I had available to me, I was reducing the amount of waste that I produced, keeping things out of garbage cans and off the shelves that gather dust for years and years and years full of things with no productive value.

This plus an accumulation of never-ending plastic bags further sparked a desire to participate in a zero-waste lifestyle, something of an experiment postulated by the internet that suggests life where everything is reduced, reused, or recycled with no waste generated whatsoever. I did pretty well at it, too! The attempt at zero-waste also pushed me to host and participate in local garbage cleanups which brought me into the parks for more than just a leisurely stroll, photography adventure, or hour with a book. Being and serving outdoors with a purpose.

[Image Description] A hand holding up a plastic bag labeled “flour tortillas.”
I also wanted to explore my surroundings because I had just moved to the area, a city that just happened to be well supplied with gorgeous parks and trails with plenty more up the road. I wanted to see everything, so I started park hopping– going from park to park learning about the natural environment, the history of the places’ geology and geography, agriculture, Native American history, Minnesotan history, politics. All in fresh air and sunshine (with some snowy and misty episodes thrown in, adding to the adventure.) And, I was getting exercise and a tan! I felt freedom and independence. I was experiencing Minnesota, not behind a desk or in front of a screen.

I started looking into farming, then into wildflowers or ephemeral flowers, which lead to more curiosity about trees and plants. Which lead to more reading, experimenting, and creating. It was freedom and independence. Love, life, and an occasional dog-sighting, too. Not in a home, but outside of everyone’s. A macrocosmic home.

I loved every minute of it. I fell in love with environmental practices and the environment itself. When the opportunity with the Conservation Corps came up–the opportunity to learn more about the natural world and to help it–there was no way that I could say no. It did not matter that there was hard labor involved, that I would get dirty and/or [potentially] not look like a model every single day. [Compliments welcome. :P] Long hours didn’t matter, nor did driving or working around heavy equipment and tools. The potential of risk. It was a risk that I was willing to take. The gender-makeup was a non-issue. It was worth it.

We are helping to shape the planet and to save the planet. Is there anything greater than that?

I started because I was nesting.

I found a really, really big nest. And, I want to take care of it.

She is Mother Earth, and we are Mother Earth, too.

#WeAreMotherEarth #Momming

An plastic bag labeled “wild blueberries” is filled with trash sitting on the ground next to an empty soda can.