October 26, 2011
Columbia Riverkeeper, Hood River, OR
My PILP stipend allowed me to spend my first summer in law school working for Columbia Riverkeeper, a small but incredibly active and effective environmental nonprofit. Columbia Riverkeeper does fantastic work on behalf of the Columbia River and the communities – both human and non-human – that depend on it. PILP helped me help Riverkeeper help the Columbia.
And that’s exactly what I came to law school to learn how to do.
I came to Lewis & Clark because I wanted to improve my ability to be effective, and helpful - but I wanted to keep my grasp on reality and issues I feel passionate about. My summer experience at Riverkeeper went straight to this mission. I got thoughtful, concrete, and constructive feedback from Riverkeeper’s Staff Attorney – which helped me improve both my writing and research skills. I worked on a variety of issues, both legal and policy-related – from the Clean Water Act and the Washington Model Toxics Control Act to coal export politics and salmon lifecycles. I learned new things all day every day. I sat in on meetings with coalition partners and government agencies. I was able to observe experienced, effective, smart and passionate attorneys in action. And I got to eat lunch with them. And go kayaking on the Columbia with them.
One of the best parts of my experience at Columbia Riverkeeper was the feeling that I was part of a movement much bigger than myself – a tidal wave of people working for the health of a river ecosystem that is the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest. The entire organization is fueled by an enormous, infectious passion for the Columbia that invigorated me – both as a law student and as a human being. To get to be a part of it – and to contribute to it – was an honor and a pleasure. PILP helped me help Columbia Riverkeeper – and it helped strengthen me as I move forward trying to make a difference in the world.