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In Their Own Words: Alumni Update — Beth Landers

In Their Own Words: Alumni Update — Beth Landers

Post Series: In Their Own Words -- Alumni Updates

Feel inspired by our engaged alumni and learn how significant bus Resource Experiences still impact them years after the fact!

Beth Landers — Ready for Whatever the Weather Brings!

Beth still loves being outside in any weather :)

Beth still loves being outside in any weather 🙂

I live in one of the flattest parts of the United States.  If you’d have asked me during my “bus years” where I was headed after graduation, the answer would have been “anywhere but Ohio” because my home state seemed so mundane after the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, or the saguaros of southern Arizona.  Yet here I am in northwest Ohio, working to improve water quality on the very river I first sailed on and fished in, and in Lake Erie, the butt of almost every water quality joke ever made.

My favorite memories of life on the bus aren’t necessarily the long hikes or amazing vistas at the end, but of the small moments of a rare thunderstorm on the slick rock above the Escalante River, or the sudden reversal of a Chinook in the Canadian Rockies, eating up whatever snow and ice had accumulated.  An unexpectedly dry Pacific Northwest, or an unusually cold winter in Ohio create small moments of marvel.

Beth taking some time out outside, while on the bus.

Beth taking some time out outside, while on the bus.

The summer before I ‘got on the bus’ for the first time, I found out I was assigned to the Pacific Northwest.  I was deeply concerned about the weather and climate of fall in the PNW.  Surely we won’t be out in the rain all the time, will we?  I mean, we’ll occasionally be in cabins or bunkhouses or something, right?  But looking back, I realize that some of the most memorable moments of life on the bus were those where we were living in the climate we were moving through.  One dark and particularly wet night, three of us were responsible for cooking dinner, and we’d decided on carrot soup earlier in the week.  I don’t remember why we ended up in camp so late, but there wasn’t a shelter house available.  So we huddled against the side of the bus cooking and sharing all those silly camp songs we remembered from whatever camps our parents had sent us to.  Carrot soup takes forever when it is cold and windy out, but honestly, we were having a better time than our busmates who lingered inside the bus, delaying the inevitability of setting up tents in the rain.  Turns out you don’t have to wait out the rain; sometime you just put on your jacket and go out into it.

I currently work for a conservation district, encouraging farmers to adopt agricultural practices that protect soil health and improve water quality.  Almost every day, I use the communication skills I learned and practiced on the bus, as I move between conversations with farmers, regulators, and elected officials.  And my office is always busier when there’s rain.  I can look at the weather forecast and tell if our office will be quiet because all the farmers are out in the fields, or if there’s going to be a rain shower that keeps them out of the fields and brings them into town.  Rain in March washes nutrients out into Lake Erie, and will predict just how much the media will be focusing on the resulting algae blooms in August.  And I keep a variety of clothes and shoes on hand, so I’m ready to face whatever the weather brings that day, for work or for play.

Beth was a graduate student on the bus from 2001-2003. (Fall 2001 — Pacific Northwest; Spring 2002 — Desert Southwest; Fall 2002 — Alberta; and Spring 2003 — Practicum in Ohio’s snow belt).

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