Jersey Goes Mountain

Hey all, I’m Alyssa, I’m currently working as an ARAMARK/SCA intern out in Nevada at a resort/campground. My internship is actually almost over, but I was given the great opportunity of talking about it here on Follow Me. If it’s okay with you, I’ll start from the way beginning, and talk about the time from when I first heard the word “sustainability” to today, when I’m proud to call myself a member of the SCA.

My experiences with the environment, sustainability, and conservation are somewhat unique. I mean, I grew up in New Jersey, in a community where most people didn’t really think much about nature or the environment, or immerse themselves in it. I mean, New Jersey has some pretty areas, some farmland, the shore (yes, the Jersey Shore was part of where I was raised – don’t laugh) but my view of Jersey when I was growing up was highways, malls, and suburbia…

I can thank my college experience for helping me to broaden my mind. When I came home for the summer and went to the shore, it wasn’t just for socializing and catching rays… it was to interact with my nature. I went into college with the idea that I was there to get a degree so I could become a nutritionist and open up my own practice. I love food, and wanted to help people who also love food love it in a healthy way. But early in my college experience my mind was blown: Food production is a major contributor to global warming? We’re over fishing and causing fish extinction? Clearing farmland for agricultural purposes is a major cause of deforestation? My food travels an average of 1500 miles from farm to plate? There were so many problems I learned about our food system and how it harms the environment. Don’t even get me started on the fact that disparities in our food system can lead simultaneously to malnourishment and obesity! In learning all of this, I became much more interested in the environment and sustainability. It took a while to sink in, but once I really got a grip on it I was ready to work hard to tackle these issues, which lead me to my internship with The SCA and ARAMARK here in Tahoe, Nevada.

So for those of you who have never been to or seen pictures of Tahoe you have to get on it ASAP. For those of you who know what Tahoe is, yes I expect you to be jealous. This place is every mountain lover’s, hiker’s, skier/snowboarder’s, wake boarder’s, (insert other water sport here) lover’s dream. It was all somewhat new to me… and even newer to me, the first thing they wanted me to work with here was wildlife issues, which means BEARS. I was kind of scared once I started learning about the abundance of wildlife in the area, including coyotes, mountain lions, and black bears. The only wildlife I was familiar with back in Jersey were the friendly deer that made a home underneath my backyard trampoline.

Here are the issues I was confronted with: we have an RV Park/Campground, that attracts bears who get into the dumpsters and eat lots of trash. When bears become a problem in this area, they are sometimes shot and killed. We have a wide variety of reactions to the bears from our guests, some purposely leave food out so they can get a good picture of a bear to take home and show everyone what they saw on their Tahoe vacation, some complain and say we need to create a safer camping experience, some even think that we should tranquilize bears whenever they show up. My task was to find a happy medium between keeping bears alive and wild and respecting their natural habitat, all while keeping them off our property.

Stay tuned for the rest of my blog so you can learn all about the Jersey girl who went mountain, learned the connection between sustainability careers and conservation leadership, created a friendlier human-wildlife interaction situation for a Tahoe campground, and much more. You’ll learn about my challenges and successes, about my unique position working in a program pairing a multimillion dollar company with a national nonprofit, and how living outside of my comfort zone, I came to really appreciate this place. Because hey:

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