It all began on a cold February day because of Paul Walker and procrastination.
Actually, only part of that is true – it was hot that day, I was in South Florida.
During my sophomore year of college, I took what has been one of the most difficult classes of my entire college career- microbiology. On the day in question, my roommate was simultaneously studying for our midterm and the PCAT (like the SATs but for pharmacy school) while I was watching the Discovery Channel. I thought I caught a glimpse of Paul Walker (the actor) on a research vessel fishing for great white sharks. I spent the next four hours watching the “Expedition: Great White” marathon waiting to see if he was mentioned again- and he was. It was during this time that I began to grow very miserable with the thought of eventually applying to pharmacy school only to spend my days in an over-air-conditioned cube counting pills when what I really wanted to do was catch sharks. Little did I know that I had been called by God via Paul Walker.
After an extensive amount of Googling potential careers, average annual incomes, job growth, and stability, I settled on Environmental Science. And then doors kept opening in a way that deepened my faith and gave me strength. My private, South Florida school was expensive, but God opened the scholarship door. I needed experience, so God gave me a research grant in the Everglades and sent me on a spring break volunteer trip to the Appalachian Trail (AT). This was my first experience of conservation, restoration, and creation care; it also led to a networking opportunity. It was through the contacts I made on the AT that I found The Student Conservation Association (SCA). I applied to several openings, but the one I was selected for was at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore doing invasive species control and native plantings. I was blessed to give back to a park that I had visited so many times as a child, and it was awing.
Into my senior year, the blessings continued. God gave me volunteer opportunities, opportunities to present my research at a prestigious conference, opportunities to lead, and the opportunity to fully realize what I want to be when I grow up. God gave me a two more major blessings before I graduated- an embarrassing job interview and another internship. I hardly ever lose my voice- but it happened the day of my interview, and looking back on it now I can only see that as God’s way of keeping me from the wrong job. A few weeks later I interviewed and accepted an internship with The Nature Conservancy back home in Indiana. I spent that summer learning to control invasive species, manage a site, and have patience with nature. At the conclusion of the internship, I moved to Carmel with my parents and continued interning with The Nature Conservancy in their Indianapolis office. It was there I learned even more about invasive species and restoration.
Once I heard about Project Eden at Grace I knew I had to be involved. Project Eden isn’t a huge time commitment to be involved in the restoration projects – just a few hours every month or so. We have created a BEAUTIFUL wetland area on the east and south sides of the pond and a forest has been replanted on the north side of the main campus. It may not look like much now, but in twenty years the forest area will be a diverse natural area with mighty oaks and majestic sycamores. One of the things I love the most about restoration projects is that they don’t move. You can visit the exact same tree, on the exact day every year; you can watch your restoration grow and mature and eventually step back and let nature be. With restoration projects and other creation care projects, God gives you the reward of being able to see your hard work and His guiding hand on the smallest of flowers, the quietest mouse, and the mightiest oak.