My family moved to La Grande in the late summer heat of 1988, rounding the bend out of Ladd Canyon and catching our first glimpse of Mt. Emily’s iconic profile dominating the distance. Though my parents were moving to take jobs at EOSC, it was our first time in Eastern Oregon, our weary eyes looking out across the Grande Ronde Valley at the end of a cross-country adventure that took us from the rolling, humid hills of Southern Ohio, across the Great Plains, over the Rockies, and into a piece of the world we had yet to know. Over the next 13 years, I came to know and love the hills and mountains of Eastern Oregon in ways I cannot imagine knowing any other place. Spring was spent wandering in search of morels, summer was spent discovering the high places deep within the Wallowa Mountains or tramping through the woods in search of the ever-elusive “large” huckleberry, in fall we waited for the snow, and in the winter we slid around on skis through the silent, frozen woods near Spout Springs, around Anthony Lakes, and near Salt Creek Summit. By the time I graduated from LHS in 2001, Eastern Oregon had left a deep imprint on my understanding and view of the world. It had instilled in me a deep desire to protect the natural world so that future generations might be able confront it with the same sense of wonder that all of us who grew up with the Blue Mountains out our backdoor were able to do without even realizing what a gift we had so easily within our reach.
|Josh (red bandana) and his dad crossing a snow bridge above Hurricane Creek, July 2011.|
After high school, I spent four formative years at Middlebury College in central Vermont. There, surrounded by the entirely different beauty of the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks looming just across Lake Champlain, my feelings about the importance of preserving the few remaining wild places left in this world occupied more and more of my thinking. Since that time, life has taken me back to Oregon where I lived and worked in Portland for two years, back across the country to Boston where I lived and worked for three years, and finally, south to Washington, DC where my wife and I decided to take the graduate school plunge together.
|Josh (right), his younger brother Ezra, and his dad in the hills above La Grande, Christmas 2011.|
At the Washington College of Law at American University, I am trying my best to honor my rationale for returning to school to pursue my legal degree. I am a member of the editorial board of the Sustainable Development Law and Policy publication, a member of the Environmental Law Society, and hope to continue to focus my studies on environmental law and policy. It is hard to believe that my legal pursuits have brought me back to Eastern Oregon to spend the summer as a legal intern with the Hells Canyon Preservation Council, but I suppose life is full of these wonderfully unexpected twists and turns. This is the first professional experience I have ever had in a place that I feel a passionate connection to, and I hope that in the next two months I am able to make a positive and substantial contribution to HCPC’s ongoing conservation efforts in what is truly one of the most remarkable corners of the world.