We owe a thanks to our sister organization, fellow National Estuary Program the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership (TEP), for lending us one of their VetsWork Interns this year. Over the last few months, Chris Sutherland has worked on a variety of projects with us. While he’s still assigned to TEP, unexpected challenges from the pandemic made it hard to reach Tillamook consistently. Since he is local to the Metro area, we have been happy to provide fieldwork opportunities for him.
Chris was born and raised in California where he discovered an early love for the outdoors and developed a “soft spot for people, animals, plants or anything at-risk.” He joined the California Conservation Corps at 17 and from that experience he knew he wanted to spend his life doing environmental work. Chris is a veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he served for four years. After the Coast Guard, he worked for the US Postal Service before going back to school at Portland State where he earned a BA in Science focusing on environmental studies and geography. “I immediately started taking internships with the park districts and working at nature sites,” said Chris. “I saw the opportunity with TEP and all the amazing field work potential. I felt these internships would boost my resume and skills immensely.”
The VetsWork program offers natural resource-focused internships with a wide variety of government and non-profit organizations to veterans interested in developing those skills and building a competitive resume. Locally, NOAA funds four VetsWork interns: two at TEP, one with Willamette Riverkeeper and, beginning in 2021, one with the Estuary Partnership. The Mount Adams Institute manages the recruitment and training for interns and host organizations.
Chris brings considerable knowledge and skills to the work he does for the Estuary Partnership. He has supported our seasonal monitoring work in Columbia County, field work at Steigerwald, and volunteer plantings. He has also worked solo to prep and maintain planting and stormwater sites. Most recently, he has been working alongside Alvey Seeyouma to remove ivy along Campen Creek, a tributary of Gibbons Creek in Washougal.
We look forward to continuing our relationship with TEP and in supporting Chris through the last few weeks of his current VetsWork internship, and maybe seeing him again next year.