November Volunteer Spotlight: Caitlyn O'Connor

Despite having only been actively volunteering with us for three months, Caitlyn has made a strong impression on our staff and board of trustees. She is often still in the office working on her projects after all staff members have gone home. We'd like to acknowledge her willingness to jump right in and work hard by recognizing her with November's Volunteer Spotlight! Nice work Caitlyn!

Caitlyn is our Volunteer Trustee Coordinator, and is also assisting our Puget Sound Program Director Jessie Israel with social science research that connects the dots between investments in natural infrastructure and its impacts on people, economy and our communities. A West Coast native, Caitlyn grew up in Los Angeles, went to school in Victoria, Canada, worked for a start-up in San Francisco and is currently in Seattle pursuing her dream of working with a non-profit to make a difference in the community. She moved to Seattle in April and has been in love ever since.  

At the University of Victoria, she co-founded BOSS (Sociology Student Society) and was a research assistant for Dr. Vahabzadeh while he was studying the power of social movements and the influence they have on individuals to be active or passive in the transition. 

We asked Caitlyn to tell us about why she volunteers with The Nature Conservancy and is passionate about nature, and here's what she had to say:

The Nature Conservancy: What inspired you to start volunteering with The Nature Conservancy?

Caitlyn O'Connor: I want to work for TNC because their values align with mine. They are science-driven, hold deep experience and have proven results across the globe. They care about our rapidly changing climate which is straining our natural systems on which all life depends. 

TNC: What gives you the most hope for the future?

CO: People, our ability to make a difference, that we can come together and collaborate to advance a movement.  

TNC: What's your favorite thing to do when you're not volunteering?

CO: Plan my next adventure, which is currently Iceland, and drink coffee; preferably at the same time.  

TNC: How does volunteering make you feel?

CO: It feels great to be around people with similar interest, to help others and enact change. It gives me a sense of pride and identity of doing good and helping others. It gives me a positive view of my life and my future goals.  

TNC: What is your favorite Nature Conservancy preserve or project?

CO: My favorite project is Cities. Making it possible for nature and cities to coexist through the development of green infrastructure and natural solutions to pollution.

TNC: What do you think the world will be like in 50 years?

CO: I don't know since Back to the Future is now completely in the past. 

TNC: Who is your environmental hero?

CO: Each and every one of us who does their best to protect our planet. 

TNC: What is your spirit animal and why?

CO: I am a butterfly, owl, and tiger according to this survey. The butterfly is a symbol of powerful transformations and currently, I have changed my location and direction of my career. The owl is about seeing beyond the veil of deception and illusion, solving mysteries of life. My favorite thing about Sociology is researching and presenting the "hypocrisy" of our society. And lastly, to move cities, change careers, and investigate the hidden, the spirit of a tiger – willpower, personal strength, and courage – polishes off my personality. So yup, I think this quiz is fairly accurate.  

TNC: Have you ever convinced someone to do something they didn't want to do?

CO: Yes, but most of the time it is for their/our good. When I was 18, my best friend and I decided to travel Europe, London to Rome, with no itinerary and no hostel booked for the six weeks. Let's say, the stories started on our first night. We almost slept on a bench because every hostel was booked for Wimbledon. Oooops.  

TNC: Is there anything you would like to see The Nature Conservancy doing that we are not already doing?

CO: I would like to see The Nature Conservancy demand more from the government to enact change.