The volunteer we’re shining the “spotlight” on for March has been a fixture at our front desk every Monday for the past year, greeting visitors and cheerfully providing support to staff. She has been integral in assisting the operations team and many others on special projects: from editing and updating detailed documents to coordinating meeting logistics large and small. Jessica’s reliability and conscientious nature are much appreciated by those she works with. Presenting Jessica Wetter, our volunteer Reception Assistant!
The Nature Conservancy: How does volunteering make you feel more connected to nature and your community?
Jessica: While my role at the front desk does not make me feel directly connected to nature, it does help me feel connected to the TNC community and like-minded people who are working daily on behalf of our environment (and in my mind, each other). Through being at TNC, as my awareness of environmental issues is heightened, I feel equal parts anxious about the state of our planet and reassured and motivated that organizations like this one exist (on such a grand scale)! Thank you, TNC, for the work you are doing!
TNC: Do you have a memory of when you first knew you wanted to make a difference as a volunteer?
Jessica: I started volunteering with my family when I was around eleven. Since then, I have volunteered in so many places and situations. While I deal with uncertainty with “what I want to be when I grow up,” I know that I feel drawn to help in this lifetime, whether that is paid or not. Regarding TNC specifically, I remember that the 2016 Presidential election motivated me to follow through on a nature-specific goal of giving back (and hopefully helping to protect our environment in some way).
If you want to be a volunteer like Jessica, come to our next new volunteer info session to learn more. It’s happening on Thursday, March 15th, from noon-1pm in our Seattle office. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
TNC: What inspired you to start volunteering with The Nature Conservancy?
Jessica: I have felt anxious about climate change for many years now, and very hopeless feeling about how I can help or how we can turn it around. It was suggested to me that I try to find like-minded people/community around this topic since my other work and volunteering isn’t centered on nature.
TNC: What is your volunteer role? How long have you been volunteering with The Nature Conservancy? Do you volunteer anywhere else?
Jessica: I volunteer once a week (for the most part) at the front desk in our Seattle office. I serve as a receptionist and sometimes end up doing odd-ball jobs, like dissembling evergreen garlands from the holidays! I am coming up on a year with TNC.
I have volunteered since I was eleven, all over the place. Currently, my other volunteer jobs are with Rain City Rock Camp for Girls (a social justice organization that utilizes music as a tool of empowerment for female and gender non-conforming youth and adults- ask me about it!) and Seattle School District (as a tutor and frisbee coach).
TNC: Our natural environment is facing a lot of challenges these days. What gives you the most hope for the future?
Jessica Wetter: I struggle to feel hope at times, and for sure TNC gives me hope every time I am here. I also find hope in small measures somewhat frequently. Anytime I learn of a greener alternative becoming available -- like fuel-alternative vehicles, plastic-bag bans, universal chargers for electronics, large corporations making green choices, organics, research and information sharing, ride-sharing options, thread recycling for old textiles, any type of recycling, and any time there is a business model that makes sense for business, money AND the environment!
TNC: What does nature mean to you?
Jessica: Nature to me means that humans didn’t create it, don’t manage it, sometimes don’t know everything or anything about it, and aren’t needed for it to exist. Sometimes I get tired of witnessing human activity negatively affecting nature (thereby each other), and a certain level of egocentric approach to issues surrounding nature. What is cool to me is all of the ways nature functions without us, and is so clever! Like how the hammer in a bat’s ear pulls away from the ear drum when the bat makes its call so that it won’t make itself deaf (if I remember that right). How cool is that?!
TNC: What is your favorite animal and why?
Jessica: I love a lot of animals! Elephants, whales and dogs are my top three favorites! Elephants especially fascinate me as they seem to be so smart, communicative and emotionally intelligent. It impresses me that they seem to honor the dead by returning to other elephants’ remains and carefully handling the bones. I like that they are a matriarchal species and that the gestation period is something like two years! I also think it’s cool that their communication frequencies cover a wide range; some inaudible to humans! It’s also awesome to me that their bodies seem somewhat cumbersome, yet they are so strong and nimble in their own ways.
TNC: What is your favorite tree?
Jessica: Ooh, this is too tough to answer! I love a forest of lots of different kinds of trees. I really love trees that show a lot of color (like a Japanese Maple), that are huge and knobby with a big canopy, that have the most beautiful green leaves that are so juicy to look at from below when the sun shines through them, that are fun to climb or lean against…. I LOVE TREES!
TNC: What's your favorite thing to do when you're not volunteering?
Jessica: I love playing music with people, walking in the woods, eating chocolate, being around my dog, sleeping in, hanging with people and being silly (NOT thinking about climate change).
TNC: What do you think the world will be like in 50 years?
Jessica: I suppose it depends on my mood and how hopeful I am feeling. Any futuristic movie preview (I don’t watch them) gives me the creeps because so often they are in space, they are all dark, and there is so much artificial intelligence and technology. Where are the trees? That picture of the future scares me! If I am hopeful, I’d like to think the future looks a lot less dependent on oil and plastics, there’s a lot more local business and community-sharing, there’s a lot more general knowledge about and respect for nature across industries,
TNC: Who is your environmental hero?
Jessica: Any person or organization who considers the big picture and impact of their choices (from big ones to little ones), and is willing to put some due diligence, time and effort into making well-informed decisions that may not be immediately satisfying or make the biggest gain in the moment, but will be sustainable and beneficial in the long run for this planet and its inhabitants.
TNC: Where are you from? How long have you been living in Washington?
Jessica: Outer Space! Just kidding. I have made that joke since I was young since I never really felt like I was from anywhere since we moved around so much. My parents grew up here, and began moving around the country with my dad’s job in the early 70s. I was born in New Jersey and lived in Georgia, Connecticut, Louisiana, Connecticut again, Georgia again, Florida, Spain and now Seattle! I have lived here the longest of any place: since 2002.
TNC: Anything about your career or schooling you would like to share?
Jessica: I’m still searching for my career niche! I’m easily fascinated, so I have tried several lines of work over the years, but predominately have worked with youth (nanny, tutor, teacher, coach, interpreter). I’m currently considering pursuing education in order to become a Music Therapist, yet writing the answers to these questions resurfaces my desires to become more educated, empowered and impactful in environmental justice work.
Thank you, Jessica, for your service to us and the community! It’s amazing to see how active you are with so many different causes.
Banner photo by Ian Shive.