Cindy Holland is MDLT’s Volunteer Coordinator. She was responsible for the AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2 team while they served with MDLT earlier this year.
I fell in love with my job through my time working with AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2. I’ve heard countless stories of how people fall in love with the desert at first sight. That’s fantastic. But the truth is, it wasn’t like that for me. I wasn’t thinking that I would work in conservation for the rest of my life.
AmeriCorps NCCC Gold 2 renewed my appreciation for the work I do. I grew up in the northwest. Portland to be exact. I grew up hiking trails that led to waterfalls throughout Multnomah County. I came to the desert from a very different place — and so did AmeriCorps. Gold 2 arrived in Joshua Tree with different levels of personal maturity, life experiences and values, and different understandings of the work they were doing. Despite this, I watched them learn to work together as a team. And it felt good that I took part in their growth in a small way.
I saw 11 young adults working hard, for very little money, and cultivating a strong work ethic. It was humbling. Even though we were close to the same age, I quickly earned my nickname of ‘mom’.
Together, we fell in love with the area. We learned to appreciate the fresh air and the views. I saw them work long hard days and still have a smile on their face. Now they have gone onto their next posting, I miss hearing their laughter and stories, and seeing them step up to their tasks, learn, and ask questions.
I think it’s important to see a different side of conservation. How spreading awareness sometimes takes time. It might take a while to fully open your eyes and truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds you.
Now I have a constant desire to see more. Now there is this sense of adventure and I have this need to go out and explore. In the past I would spend my spare time going to places that reminded me of home. Now I look whether I can take vacation time to join the stewardship team on camping trips. I want to be out in the field doing restoration work and picking up trash.
You can now find me most evenings trying to find the best sunset viewing spots with my dogs, Duke & Delilah.
Lesson learned: Regardless of how society may view my work, through Gold 2 I learned to take pride in what I do and to get the job done right. I learned that its completely normal to love your job and recognize the fact that it’s hard work.