Lizzy Stanton '17

Starting an internship at the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), I wasn't really sure what to expect. I was told that it would be best for me to have my own car, so I made the long trek from eastern Nebraska to central Oregon. Flying would've been much easier, but it was definitely nice to have my own car to explore with. It would've been nice to live in the city to be close to the ONDA office, but I lived at a board member's house about a half hour drive from Bend. The board member was not home often, and she was generous enough to let me stay at her house, with laundry and a kitchen (but no internet or television), for free.
Everyone at the ONDA office was very welcoming, and they all had good suggestions of where to explore. My initial and overall impressions were the same, as I thought that the organization is very professional and well-organized. The internship was geared toward someone who is independent, which I appreciated. I got to pick my own hours, and I researched and booked events to perform outreach for ONDA at. Talking with Oregonians at events, it was refreshing to find that many of them are environmentally minded. Recycling is a priority, and in the city of Bend, there are heavily used bike lanes everywhere. One of my few regrets was not bringing my bike, but the ONDA office has bikes that can be checked out. Travelling to events was also nice, because it was a great way to see the scenery in Oregon, which is amazing.
I was in awe of how wild and untouched much of Oregon is, which really made me realize that one of the main goals of ONDA, to get areas of land in Oregon designated as Wilderness, was a goal that was well-founded and could have a great and lasting impact. When I wasn't in the office, I was exploring. I went on a few ONDA trips, which were all educational and exciting, as we hiked in the badlands and on a mountain, had a staff retreat at a playa, and went backpacking to repair a barbed wire fence at the boundary of the Wilderness. I also explored on my own, visiting crystal clear rivers and waterfalls, mountains and chilly mountain lakes, lava formations and calderas, Canyonlands, and the Painted Hills. I was amazed by the diversity that could be found so close to Bend. The only obstacle with visiting these places were wildfires, which were more common than I expected.
Overall, I had quite a few new life experiences this summer, and am so glad I got the opportunity to find out what it was like to work for an environmental nonprofit and to explore Oregon.