Learning About Place—Julia Chen

I spent over a week in Wyoming and Idaho this spring learning about the environmental issues and organizations working towards solutions. From meeting the housing advocacy group Shelter JH to Wyoming Game and Fish, I began to think about how lived experience influences why we work on the issues we care about and persist.

This year, I have had the privilege of working on two applied projects in Wyoming. With the Nature Conservancy – Wyoming, I have gained an understanding for the system of wood processing and the various stakeholders in the state. I also studied how beavers affect a specific creek and the social implications of human-wildlife conflict. Through these opportunities, I also started to consider how important it is to know a place and build relationships. Being at YSE, I have felt disconnected as I walk through the northern hardwood forests because I am drawn to working on forestry issues in the western United States. I am realizing how my environmental interests were shaped by the experiences and conversations surrounding forest health in California and why I long to work to make a difference in my home state. 

But in the present, the trip to Wyoming allowed me to connect with the landscape in a new way. A five hour road trip took me through dead conifer forests and the sagebrush plains. I recognized the beauty of the scenery and the desire to conserve it. Being able to walk between the lodgepole pine trees in knee-deep snow, I grew fond of a new place I once felt distant from through the project. The urgency and work that is being done to help the environment is a shared sentiment wherever I may go. 

I am thankful for the space I have shared with many people in Wyoming, and I am hopeful for the future of forests and conservation in the state.

Bison are rematriating the land of the Wind River Reservation

Photo Credit: Julia Chen