How did you get involved with CEI? I found CEI in the summer of 2020 as I was looking for an organization with which to do my Social Justice Internship. A Social Justice Internship is a required part of my formation process as I seek to become an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church. These internships are traditionally working in soup kitchens and such, but they were not accepting interns last summer due to the pandemic. So, I was thrilled to find CEI where the work was predominantly outside, allowing for social distancing, and I could focus on environmental justice, an increasingly important part of the overall social justice equation and one of my passions.
What has encouraged your love of the environment? From my childhood I spent a lot of time outdoors, especially fishing on and around the Chesapeake Bay. Over the years I became aware of the degradation of the water quality and its impact on wildlife. This led me to be a supporter and occasional volunteer with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Much later in life I became responsible for managing the buildings and grounds at the Claggett Center, which included 168 acres of land and a mile of shoreline on the Monocacy River. This required me to take an active role in caring for this beautiful property. Adding these experiences with my own love of hiking and camping, looking after nature kind of comes natural. Today's climate crisis makes this work all the more urgent.
What has been your most enjoyable experience with CEI / at Freetown Farm? Without a doubt, my favorite experience was working with the volunteers at Freetown Farm to complete important projects, such as clearing the area for the new greenhouse, putting up the fence around the Hope Works Garden and installing educational signs.
How has your time with CEI shaped your attitude towards the natural world? My love of nature preceded my coming to CEI. But what my CEI experience has done is provide me an incredible example of how much can be done with volunteers. Seeing the number of volunteers and their willingness to leap in to make things happen has been remarkable.
Any other thoughts/comments? The biggest take away from this internship is a new appreciation of what can be done with passion. Chiara's passion has infected so many people and has made everything possible. I still stand amazed at what has happened at Freetown Farm over the last 20 months. Wow!!