A Friendly Farewell

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Sending Kris to Kansas

Story & Photography by Julie Morse, Regional Ecologist

Working for The Nature Conservancy is a dream job. Right? I mean, especially here in Washington, and even more especially, here in the Skagit Valley. If your job entails having coffee with farmers, and taking people on a raft trip down the Skagit River to see bald eagles… does it get any better than that??

So who on earth, would trade that for a job in Kansas?

My colleague Kris just did. See he grew up in Kansas, so when the opportunity came up to do the job he loves – working for The Nature Conservancy, in the place he loves, it was a no-brainer. He says the decision was all about family and the chance for Bryson - his 2 year old son, to grow up on the family farm.

So yesterday we “celebrated” Kris’ moving on. It was a beautiful sunny day so we hiked out to Craft Island, a little gem of a rock in the middle of Skagit Bay. There were toasts, and really nice things said. And then there was a whole lot of banter about wheat products and all the whitewater he could run, in Kansas.

As a going away present, one of the local farmers gave Kris a model International tractor, an exact replica of his first tractor on his potato farm. I don’t know how many environmentalist get model tractors as their going away present, but Kris did. It speaks volumes to the relationships he built here, and his incredible skill and finesse in finding common ground, and getting people to work together.

But honestly, the day didn’t feel like much of a celebration to me. It felt like we were losing a family member. Like we just lost the family dog.

The thing about working for The Nature Conservancy is we are all fiercely dedicated and passionate about the work we do, of course. But it made me realize a dream job is not about the work you do, it’s about having fun doing it.

Over the last 7 years we’ve had so much fun together – from canon-balling in Fisher Slough, to donut eating competitions during painfully long meetings, to annual Ski to Sea races (by the way, still waiting for you to man up and beat me in the ski leg Kris). In our small Mount Vernon office we are friends first, and colleagues second.

So here’s to Kris (the tall guy in the photo) and Kansas. We’ll miss you.