Summer Vibes in the Sierra

June Great Story by Alyssa Collins, Sierra Nevada Fellow

Warm weather, hikes, and barbecues. It is that time of the year. One of the best times of the year in the Sierra is the summer, and there’s nothing like going into the start of summer. For the 4 years that I was in college, I spent those summers in Southern California. I really missed it up here. Now, I am spending the summer in the Sierra in my first year out of college working 40+ hours a week as a CivicSpark fellow, which is also coming to an end soon.

I can’t believe how fast time has gone in just one year since last summer, and how much has happened. I’ve reached some major milestones with CivicSpark this year in my project work, and I’ve had a really great experience learning a lot more than I thought I would have. I’ve also learned a lot about myself and how I operate in an office setting. I am actually in the process now of developing a case study for all of the leak detection work we’ve done this year, and I am also planning another training for Yuba County on AB 52. Despite there being only a couple months left of CivicSpark, I feel like there is still so much to do and learn. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about finding what I am doing next, which takes a huge load of off my shoulders.

A few weeks ago, I applied to an AmeriCorps Urban Forestry program in the San Jose area and was luckily accepted. I owe it to CivicSpark and one of the projects I’ve worked on for sparking my interest in learning more the connections between water resiliency with drought tolerant plants and reducing the urban heat island effect. I’m very excited to explore this opportunity post CivicSpark and see where it leads me. I’ve always been interested in plants, and in college I did a research project on deforestation and reforestation efforts in Costa Rica, but sometimes you need that extra push and work experience to realize that it is something you should pursue. I’m really excited to see if urban forestry becomes one of my passions.

With that in mind, there are still two months left or so of CivicSpark, and I feel I have a lot to accomplish still. I am trying to finish the program a little bit early, so I have to work 45-47 hours a week. It is a little tougher than I thought it would be, especially working a second job on the weekends. I also want to make sure I enjoy the summer here in the Sierra, since it is the first one I am here in four years, and because I will be moving to San Jose and will be spending the summer there next year. It isn’t too far from Truckee, but far enough to not be able to spend a lot of time up here in the mountains. There’s something to be said about these mountains this time of year, sunrise to sunset. I’m going to try to find that balance between work and play time, and I’m constantly trying to make sure I spend as much time outdoors as possible.