January 31, 2014

New interns come out of the woods to work for conservation in Washington

In January, the Coalition welcomed Mercedes Mehling as development intern and Sarah Mendonca as communications intern. The Coalition’s intern program is our way of providing career resources and training to outdoor enthusiasts looking for a way to protect Washington’s natural legacy.

Mercedes was born and raised in a small town called Strafford in Central Vermont, a place where a love for the outdoors is deeply tied to the culture. What Vermont lacks in metropolitan amenities it makes up for with its wide array of outdoor activities. She grew up skiing and snowboarding and spent summers hiking in the Green Mountains, road biking, and jumping in swimming holes.

“I’m so excited to be at the Coalition and hope to gain experience in funding outreach, working with a nonprofit, as well as increasing my knowledge of parks, wildlife habitats, and conservation,” Mercedes said. “I already feel very comfortable and at home here in Seattle – I’ve heard some people describe Washington as ‘Vermont on steroids’—and I’m excited to see what great opportunities this new city and new position offer me.”

Mercedes attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she received an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Sociology. Her senior year she interned for an organization called Your Olive Branch, a website focusing on sustainability related news. This inspired her interest in nonprofit work as well as conservation. She is looking to further her knowledge of sustainability, conservation, and agriculture.

Sarah was born near Detroit and transplanted to the Puget Sound area this past summer.

“I grew up in the suburbs and was the ultimate couch potato. But once I joined the high school cross country team I finally understood how wonderful the woods could be,” Sarah explained. “My career and education have definitely been guided by my passion for keeping outdoor spaces available for future generations.”

Sarah spent her fall doing policy work at the Cascadia Green Building Council, and exploring local hiking trails.

Sarah attended Michigan State University, and went on to graduate with a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.

“While at MSU I was drawn to environmental policy and regulation,” Sarah said. “Afterwards I decided to get my masters degree to further my understanding of environmental issues. My goal is to help push forward land use policies to protect wild lands and outdoor recreation areas. I moved to the Seattle area because outdoor culture seems to be deeply integrated into the community’s identity.”

Since moving to Seattle Sarah has volunteered for Eat for Equity, the King Conservation District, and is currently writing an e-book on volunteerism for the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

Both Sarah and Mercedes are looking forward to helping promote Washington’s parks, wildlife, and working lands over the next few months.