Out in the Field at Port Susan Bay: Edmonds Community College

A Q & A Interview with Restoration Ecology Student Zacharay Bigelow

Written & Photographed by Marlo Mytty, Conservation Coordinator Puget Sound Programs

What is your major?

I’m planning to major in Environmental Sciences and hopefully attend Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University.

What type of restoration projects are you most interested in?

Restoration projects that involve the community, like the Port Susan Bay project. I have travelled quite a bit and observed and been involved in restoration projects that the community doesn’t see or know about, which is one of the major problems in restoration. If the community doesn’t see the work going on, they aren’t going to care about it. Outreach and getting people out there, like volunteer groups, is important. 

What do you hope to do after graduation?

Two things – to travel more and see what projects are going on; and to be skilled at what it takes to start a non-profit.  I want to have the skills to be able to set one up in a part of the world where there is less funding available and more need. Also to start one that is a leader in worldwide conservation efforts.

What interested you most about today’s tour/what will you take away?

The process of the recovery of the habitat. What really struck me is how much of this habitat there must have used to have been. This project supports hundreds of thousands of birds and it’s cool to see a piece of history/what the area historically must have been like.

What would you tell someone who thinks that the current environmental challenges we are facing are too big to overcome?

I read a quote once on a wall in a big CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) cabin that is a testament to how much work one person can do. The quote was something like “The biggest mistake a person could ever make is deciding to do nothing because it was not enough.”

That fits with this and the scope of problems we are trying to fix. It’s not just what’s going on now, but what’s been done historically; and it’s just now that we are really trying to change a lot of these things. 

What do you think is the most important thing for The Nature Conservancy to be working on?

To continue engaging the public in environmental issues. Education has the capacity to spread much further through society than just work does. If you inspire a single person, they can keep reaching out to others. 

That’s what I’m hoping to do.