How did you hear about the Leadership Academy and what inspired you to apply for the program?
I learned about the Leadership Academy through a friend, Kevin Lynch, who was in the cohort before mine, and he said it was a great opportunity. I also connected with my degree I was studying at the time, environmental science and policy. I am a huge advocate for protecting our public lands and conservation so it only made sense to get involved in the Leadership Academy.
What was your project?
“Convert-a-Can – Using Art and Creativity as a Tool for Advocacy.” Project Convert-A-Can turns unattractive trash bins into interactive art installations to create awareness and advocacy toward the prevention of littering and graffiti. The projects focus is to improve the infrastructure, deter litter and graffiti vandalism, and enhance the outdoor experience by beautifying the specific areas of the San Gabriel Mountains.
What’s the best thing you learned?
I learned vital leadership skills that allowed me to coordinate a successful project and do public outreach. I learned so much history about the San Gabriels and the organizations that work together to protect it.
What surprised you about the program or your work on the project?
I was surprised at the level of achievement I felt after completing my project and the Leadership Academy program. It felt so good to successfully complete both. And the impact it has made on my life was a surprise — it keeps on giving.
Describe being in the great outdoors.
Being in the great outdoors gives me peace. It allows me to let go of reality and be in the present. My senses heighten and I’m able to take it all in for all its worth. It allows me to have a greater sense of being and know that this is what I’m fighting for. The feeling of being outdoors makes me feel free and alive.
What’s your favorite way to spend your day in the San Gabriel Mountains?
I love the drive up Highway 39, visiting the West Fork trail with my sister and mom. Taking a hike down the trail along the river. Sitting down along the river by a waterfall to enjoy a great sack lunch with my family. Telling stories or just being in silence. That crisp air, and the sound of the trees in the wind makes my day.