2016 Spring Intern Tehani Louis-Perkins ’18 writes about her Experiences at the Confederate Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation

Tehani headshotMy name is Tehani Louis-Perkins and I am currently interning at the Confederate Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation and Walla Walla Community College fisheries lab. This lab is a part of the first foods program that the CTUIR runs which means that most of the animals raised in this lab are traditional foods of the Umatilla people.

Tehani pic 5Here we raise pacific lamprey, various species of mussels, and various species of fish. I play the role in managing the various systems and feeding majority of the fish within the lab. Throughout this semester I sort of created a bond with two sturgeons that I have been feeding, cleaning, and caring for since the beginning of this internship. One of them being very strong and well fed was always swimming very fast while the other one was significantly thinner and weaker. I would clean their tank and feed them tried to do everything I could to make that one fish stronger including talking to the fish and encouraging them to be strong.

Tehani pic 3Eventually I came to the internship one day and found it floating and barely swimming along. That was probably the worst day of my internship. I was sad that I had to see that one go but was happy that the other fish remained strong. Overall, I love working here and learning how to run a wet lab is actually really fun.

Tehani pic 1            As I get more experience I will even get to design my own project and conduct research for the lab, which is something, I have never experienced before. I hope to continue learning about the different species within our lab and avoid falling in the eight-foot tall tanks that I have to clean. Until next time!


2015-16 Community Fellow Evan Heberlein ’16 writes about his experiences at Kooskooskie Commons

My fellowship with Kooskooskie Commons has been a learning experience in flexibility and self-direction, and I feel very prepared to do nonprofit environmental work in the future after my time as a community fellow.
Evan Heberlein pic 1

Checking an air temperature logger at the source of Stone Creek in Walla Walla.

Kooskooskie Commons is a small stream restoration nonprofit run by Judith Johnson. The organization has restored miles of Walla Walla’s abundant riparian habitat, which is notoriously conducive to establishment of invasive species like reed canary grass, which choke the stream banks and lower flow levels.
I realized early on that this fellowship would be different from other internships I have had in the past. In my interview, Judith told me I was more qualified for the position than she was, and since then I have been doing largely self-directed work with minimal oversight. This arrangement has required higher levels of discipline, organization, and problem solving, but has also given me the responsibility of a higher-level position than a temporary internship.
Evan Heberlein pic 2

Taking a reading from a water temperature logger at Welcome Table Farm.

One of the main lessons I learned as a fellow was that navigating funding bureaucracy is a big part of nonprofit work. Early last fall, Judith had secured a grant to conduct a restoration on several adjacent private properties along Yellowhawk Creek on the southern edge of Walla Walla. The alluvial fan underlying Walla Walla causes Yellowhawk to loop around the south edge of town, bypassing Mill Creek’s concrete channel. This abnormal hydrology makes Yellowhawk the primary means of fish passage around Walla Walla, and Judith assembled a small coalition of adjacent landowners to conduct a sizable invasive species removal project. Unfortunately, the grant application process coincided with some significant turnover in the Washington Department of Ecology, so the grant was not disbursed until the end of my time as a fellow. While I was able to contribute substantially to the monitoring design process, I did not get to break ground on the restoration. The EPA also recently revised their riparian regulations, and now mandate a 50-foot buffer zone along all river restorations receiving federal funding (which in this case goes through the state department of ecology). This regulatory change has essentially made it impossible for Judith to continue conducting restorations in urban areas with state funding, putting in jeopardy the future of Kooskooskie Commons’ prolific work in Walla Walla.
Due to funding struggles, most of my work has been related to keeping up the CURB project (Creating Urban Riparian Buffers). Approximately 20 sites around Walla Walla measure stream temperature at the source and mouth of most main streams in town. Each month, I visited each site and read the logger, and analyzed this data in Excel. I have also helped Judith create maps in GIS, write other grants, and improve the documentation of logger sites for CURB.
Working with Kooskooskie Commons has not only shown me what working for a small environmental nonprofit is like, it has given me experience running one.

2016 Spring Intern Linnea Valdivia writes about her experiences at Button Poetry

Linnea Valdivia Internship PhotoThis semester, I have had the honor and the pleasure of interning for Button Poetry. For those that don’t know, Button Poetry is the country’s (and world’s!) largest distributor of spoken word poetry and have hundreds of videos on YouTube of the most talented poets and artists of our generation. (If you haven’t seen any, I highly encourage you to go check them out!) I watched their videos for years and was thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with the people that make it all happen.

My current internship has me working on audio and graphic development for their live-stream show, Button Poetry Live. I edit each of the monthly shows and am working with my supervisor to launch a store on BandCamp.com, an online music and audio store, where users can buy and download each of the shows following the live-stream. I am also in charge of sending out and collecting contracts from each artist that participates in that month’s show. (Though this may seem like a rather dull task, I always get a little excited when I get to send an email to an artist that I know and whose work I enjoy!)

One of the biggest challenges of my internship is the fact that I am working remotely. (1,500 miles remote, to be exact) Button Poetry is actually based in Minneapolis, MN, my hometown. Though I loved their videos and their mission, I didn’t realize they were based in Minneapolis until I saw one of their posts on Facebook about a local slam over the summer. When I realized they were only a short drive away from my house, I felt inspired to reach out to them and ask if they needed an eager, young volunteer to help at their shows and the like. Over the summer I stopped by occasionally, and did some graphic design for their Facebook page and other social media platforms. When I returned to school, I missed working for Button and wished there was a way to continue working for such a great company. Thanks Spring Internship Grant, I am able to devote myself to interning for a company that inspires me so many other people.

Though working remotely definitely is a challenge, it is not without its rewards. I have learned a lot about keeping in contact with my supervisor and working independently on the projects I pursue. Though I am still under the supervision of my boss, I have to take more command of the work I do and be confident enough to make decisions that aren’t all under the eyes of my boss. Today, when so much work happens online, working remotely has presented me with a set of challenges that, ultimately, have made me more reliable and versatile in my ability to do work in this modern world.

I am so grateful that I was able to continue working with Button and devote my time and energy to such a great cause. Button, through their work, has helped to launch so many careers and has brought spoken word poetry–an art form that celebrates diversity, encourages healing and champions social justice–into the mainstream. One of the things I respect most about Button Poetry is how they uses their popularity not as a platform to earn money, but to bring to light important causes through the artists it promotes and the work it does to give younger people a voice. Button is the intersection of arts and social justice that I want to pursue later in life as a career and I am so grateful that I have this opportunity and can’t wait to see where this will take me.



2016 Spring Intern Baker Conte ’16 writes about his experiences at the Sustainable Living Center

Spring into Spring with Energy Savings Middle School Competition

Baker Conte pictureThis spring I have worked closely with Erendira Cruz, Executive Director of the Sustainable Living Center, on implementing an energy savings competition in Pioneer and Garrison Middle Schools in Walla Walla. The competition is part of a larger competition—the Georgetown University Energy Prize—that Walla Walla as a city is taking part in. It is one of 50 medium sized towns across the U.S. competing for $5 million by seeing who can reduce the most energy usage and implement the most efficient and sustainable technology and infrastructure. For the middle school competition we developed a list of checklist items ranging from Time your showers for a week to Check your monthly energy bill with your parents/guardian that the students could check off for points. If they accumulated enough points they earned a gift card to Bright’s Candies and were entered in a raffle to win a longboard or basketball hoop. Erendira and I visited the science classes at each middle school and gave nearly 20 slide show presentations a piece about global climate change, sustainability and the energy savings competition. The goal was to get young students to begin to think about these issues now so that they will be better prepared to tackle them and adapt to them in the future. In turn they can educate their families and help Walla Walla win the Georgetown University Energy Prize.

One of my goals with this internship was to begin to learn how to apply all that I have learned in the classroom in the real world and I have ultimately been able to do so. Therefore, I am very grateful to the Student Engagement Center for giving me this opportunity to work with the Sustainable Living Center. It has been a very enjoyable experience and I have learned so much about community engagement and outreach. In addition to some great professional experience, it has been an honor to experience and see Walla Walla through a new perspective. Most of all, it was a lot of fun!

Is There Life After College?


As the last two weeks of school dawn upon us, we find ourselves asking, “What am I going to do with my life?” “What happens if I don’t get a job?” “Were my accomplishments enough?” Best-selling author and award-winning columnist, Jeffrey Selingo’s new book, There is Life After College, answers all these questions and more!

Presently, in addition to a bachelor’s degree, employers require “soft skills” such as resilience, curiosity, communication and problem solving skills. These skills can be acquired through extra-curriculars, internships, sports, and rigorous majors in which students allow themselves to be challenged by their peers and professors.

Selingo outlines these necessary skills while also discussing the importance of choosing the right city in accordance with bookyour career path, the effectiveness of a concrete day-by-day schedule, and how to use gap years and online courses to your advantage.

So, whether you are a senior looking for employment or a worried sophomore thinking about what steps to take this summer to strengthen your graduate school application, it is important to use the career development resources at the Student Engagement Center to help you outline clear career and academic goals.

Also, make the best out of your time at Whitman! Take advantage of network connections with peers and alums, enjoy your favorite activities, and explore your academic and career interests through internships and research opportunities.

For further reading, check out this article about There is Life After College written by Joshua Kim. Kim highlights Selingo’s thoughts on the importance of liberal arts education.

Have a happy finals week and an even happier summer!