Seattle Alumni Give Back!

Author & Photographer: Sara Brostrom

On a cold, sunny Saturday in January, Seattle alumni were in full force helping to create a healthy forest at the Maple Wood Playfield in South Seattle. Gathered together, with the current cohort of Seattle Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC) members, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the group worked to clear invasive species and prepare the area for planting in the spring.Inspiration was abundant in both their actions and SCA stories. 

Hailee, a Seattle senior and swim instructor, told me stories of her school year crews in Seattle and national crews in Olympic, North Cascades, and Glacier National Parks. For her, SCA opened her eyes to issues surrounding sustainability. As a result, she hopes to focus her studies on architecture and sustainability next year at college. To this day, her SCA recreation trip of beach hiking and bluff scaling along the outer coast of the Olympic National Park remains her favorite outdoor space.
Duncan, a father of an SCA alumni, shared with me stories about how few organizations provide students with the opportunity to exist in such “remarkable parts of the world” and make “profound connections with nature.” So profound that, apparently, upon returning from his SCA crew this summer, Duncan’s son chose to sleep outside until the plentiful Seattle rains commenced in October. Evidently, conservation runs in the family because Duncan’s father was one of the first Park Rangers in the Olympic National Park!
Juhyun is a former member of the Desert Restoration Corps, and former community crew leader in New York City. Juhyun shared many impressive stories related to living in a tent in the desert during the winter! Though Juhyun is now finishing up her Master’s thesis in conservation biology, she still finds time to volunteer at a Seattle park. Don’t be surprised if you find Juhyun’s exploring a her favorite outdoor space- the beach.
Pete, who works at a biotech start-up in Seattle, served on an SCA community crew in high school and a national crew at Mt. Rainier National Park. When asked about his SCA experience, Pete shared with me that his crew leader inspired him get involved more, be outgoing, and consider going to college. For Pete, the biggest challenge that came with his SCA experience was “making himself vulnerable” to new experiences. Pete believes this experience made him better prepared to manage new challenges in life. When not volunteering his time on Saturdays cleaning a Seattle park, you might find Pete exploring the underutilized Seattle Arboretum.

Listening to the stories of local alumni, without a doubt, demonstrate to me not only their collective passion for our natural world, but also their commitment to conservation. By the end of the day, we removed 1800 square feet of invasive plants from the forest area and prepared the land for planting. I look forward to future opportunities to give back to Seattle parks and to be inspired by local SCA alumni.


Sara Brostrom grew up in Washington and has served with SCA on a National Crew in Alaska, as a conservation intern in Alaska and Oregon, and as a National Crew leader in Vermont. When not finishing up a master’s degree and teaching a sustainability course at the University of Washington, Sara can be found exploring her favorite Pacific Northwest outdoor space, the Olympic National Park. To learn more about the Alumni Council, please check out the council here.