Fall Intern Mariah Bruns ’17 writes about her internship at the Blue Mountain Land Trust

Mariah Bruns_blog photoI began my work at Blue Mountain Land Trust (BMLT) this summer as an intern through the Whitman Environmental Studies department’s internship program. After a successful and rewarding summer, my supervisor and the executive director of the Land Trust, Tim Copeland, asked me to continue my work into the fall. We planned out opportunities for me to expand my internship and become more involved with BMLT. This fall, with support from the Student Engagement Center, I have been working in the BMLT office in downtown Walla Walla to follow up on the connections made through the Learning on the Land program over the summer and help with organization of the annual giving campaign.

A Walla Walla-based non-profit, BMLT works with local individuals and organizations to conserve natural lands throughout the Blue Mountain region. More recently under Tim’s guidance, BMLT has expanded its focus to include natural resource-based education and outdoor recreation in Blue Mountain communities. As a geology student at Whitman and a lover of the outdoors, I have a passion for experiencing life via natural environments and, quite literally, learning on the land. As such, when I first heard about BMLT’s newly-expanded Learning on the Land program, it captured my interest immediately. My summer internship through the Whitman Environmental Studies department primarily revolved around developing and organizing events for Learning on the Land, BMLT’s education series aimed at connecting our community to the land. I also worked on expanding BMLT’s donor database, as well as outreach, fundraising, newsletters, and appeal development. This fall, with the windup of Learning on the Land and in the midst of preparation for the giving season, my work has shifted indoors and turned to the nonprofit roots of BMLT.

Mariah Bruns_blog photo 2The BMLT office is small and the work environment very collaborative. With a rewarding mentorship from Tim, my work is highly integrated with the active projects going on at BMLT. Born and raised in Walla Walla, and with an extensive background in developing nonprofits and other small organizations, Tim consistently shares stories and little bits of wisdom he has collected throughout the years. I find myself constantly learning about what it means to be a part of the Walla Walla community, both in terms of connection to place and small-town relationships. In addition, this internship is a comprehensive experience that provides a realistic look at one way I can apply my passions to the work environment. I’ve always looked forward to a career path rooted in community and appreciation of the nature that surrounds it, and working for BMLT exemplifies the kind of work I foresee myself doing. From planning Learning on the Land events to talking and working with people in the community about local natural resources, and even simply developing the mission of the Land Trust in the office, this internship helps me paint the future I see for myself.

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