While I knew I’d eventually move on from the Coalition, I never could have imagined leaving during a global pandemic. Instead of the usual goodbye happy hour and hugs from coworkers, I said my farewells over Zoom and raised a celebratory beer to my computer screen. It felt odd to be leaving the team remotely, and during such an uncertain time.
As COVID-19 has upended our lives in so many ways, it strikes me that the current crisis is the perfect example of why the Coalition’s work is so vital. People are flocking to local parks like never before, seeking fresh air and nature after long days cooped up indoors. We miss the community connections found outdoors, from family picnics to group hikes. Local farms are seeing an influx of CSA customers as consumers seek out a healthy, local food supply. And the crisis highlights the realities of unequal access to green space, as stay home orders limit families without a nearby park to their neighborhood streets.
Now more than ever, I appreciate the Coalition’s work to help create many of the outdoor spaces we cherish during this time. Our mission will continue to be critical as demand for outdoor opportunities is unprecedented, but funding for recreation and conservation will inevitably be impacted by budget shortfalls. I look forward to continuing to be a Coalition partner in advocating for our outdoors, as the Conservation and Advocacy Director at The Mountaineers.
While I certainly won’t be a stranger, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Coalition staff, board, and members for all you do to support our mission.
- To past and current Coalition staff—Christine, Caitie, and Katy: thank you for being great teammates over the past few years. Your passion for the mission, enthusiasm for everything outdoors, and company on long road trips to WWRP projects across the state made my time at the Coalition not just professionally fulfilling but fun.
- To the Coalition board: getting to know you and working with you on various committees and projects has been a highlight of my time at the Coalition. Our organization wouldn’t exist without your continued vision, service, and generosity—thank you for ALL you do!
- To the Coalition members and partners—parks and recreation departments, land trusts, recreation user groups, and many others: you are the heart of our organization and the WWRP. I’m grateful for everything you do to serve your communities and make our state a better place to live. Thank you for partnering with the Coalition on advocacy, project tours, and membership contributions to help achieve our shared goals. I’ll see you at Legislative Day 2021—as a participant this time!
- To state agency staff and especially RCO staff: thank you for all your tireless work to steward our public lands and invest in our outdoors. The passion and care with which you do your job is impressive, and I’m especially grateful for all your hard work responding to the current crisis. Thank you for your partnership during my time at the Coalition and I look forward to working with you in my new capacity.
- And finally to all Coalition donors and supporters: you make our work possible. THANK YOU!
Outreach and Policy Manager