Dedication. Passion. Determination. Resilience. Pride. The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars exuded these feelings and many others during the Conservation Scholar Summit, where individuals shared connections with their communities, cultures and environment. Most significantly, they planted their banners of belonging to the environmental movement — a fitting conclusion to the scholars’ summer.
ECOSS was fortunate to host two Doris Duke scholars this summer: Pheng Lor, a UC Berkeley student focusing on conservation and LGBT studies, and MaKail Crawford, hailing from Wesleyan University working on classics and Latino studies.
Their work culminated in final projects that engaged the Seattle Hmong and Latino communities. Pheng designed a survey and attended Hmong community events to gather their environmental concerns. MaKail trans-created a Spanish brochure to promote Trailhead Direct, a King County project providing bus routes to nearby outdoor recreation opportunities. Each laid the foundation for strong connections and community partnerships.
After far too short a time, we had to say farewell to our scholars as they returned to their home universities to finish their undergraduate studies. In typical ECOSS tradition, we celebrated their time here over good food.
As the scholars finished up, Pheng Lor reflected on his time with ECOSS:
“My internship with ECOSS has provided me a foundation for working with environmental nonprofit organizations. As expected coming into the internship, the community services that ECOSS provides to underserved communities to encourage environmental sustainability and to bridge environmental awareness and education is both inspiring and humbling.
One of my biggest takeaways is the commitment ECOSS staff has to community, particularly to communities of color. As a Hmong scholar and community organizer, I had the honor of experiencing ECOSS staff extensively reach out to the Southeast Asian community, a community that in countless fields is often neglected. This meant the world to me. Seeing that the staff represents most of the communities they serve — that’s environmental equity in practice. ECOSS’ values are what I believe today’s environmental progress and work should embody and their staff represents nothing less than their efforts towards the most effective and inclusive future, ensuring every community has access to environmental knowledge and engagement. From this takeaway I’ve also learned that the environmental work ECOSS does isn’t anything near easy and it isn’t for everyone; I am glad to have had the privilege in challenging myself in many capacities as an ECOSS intern.”
Thank you to Pheng Lor and MaKail Crawford for promoting environmental sustainability, equity and justice in Seattle! And thank you to the Doris Duke Conservation Scholar Program for providing us with our scholars! We look forward to seeing you and the rest of the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars grow into the forces for change that underserved communities need.