Down The Path of Conservation: Western Colorado Conservation Corpsmember Returns as Crew Leader

Article, written by Crew Leader Chi Yun (Jenny) Takaki, appears in WCCC thePULSE Blog. Published June 24, 2014.

In the spring of 2011, I became employed with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps. Beginning as a crew member, I was introduced to many new places, concepts, skills and individuals and I couldn't be more excited for a new adventure.

There was so much training and experiences that I was privileged to have CPR/First Aid training, Crew Leader for Trail Construction and Maintenance training and certification through the ISO of VOC, Wildland Firefighting training and certificates (S-130, S-190), a Recreational Technician Internship with the Grand Junction BLM office and eventually was specially picked by the BLM as a crew leader for a project maintaining the trails of the Tabeguache Trail, Lunch Loop system; not to forget all the education awards I was able to save through Americorps.

A vast amount of opportunities opened up and I was overwhelmed with doors to open. So at the end of the fall of that year I decided to go traveling and take me skills with me. I was inspired by the beauty of Western Colorado to see more of the country since I pretty much grew up in Grand Junction, CO.

My destination was the Northwest coast. I set my sights on a cute little WWOOFing farm off the coast of Oregon in a rural town. Since the farm was only 4 miles from the ocean, we had such a lovely journey filled with a diversity of land formations and climates as we drove down the loneliest highway. I was able to use my trade skills I learned through the WCCC at the farm like fuels mitigation and thinning of the forest and taking care of the garden. I also picked up a few more skills since I’ve never herded animals or picked wild fruit before. I met so many wonderfully kind people and made good friendships along the way.

After another brief trip to Colorado for my mom’s graduation and back to Oregon I decided to find a new destination, and through mutual friends I found a place in the Redwoods of Northern California to help with winter prep, limb removal, trail building and gardening/weeding. Eventually I felt home sick and returned to Colorado once again, completed a Yoga Teacher training and enjoyed the trails of the ever so beautiful Western Colorado.

Glad to be home, I felt like I had made many fun and daring choices after my time spent at the WCCC. Being part of such a conscience community focused on striving to help the environment and individual growth I gained so much inspiration to pursue natural synchronicity on my own. But once I felt like I lost my direction and somehow managed to end up at a thrift store, the concept of recycling was the only thing conservative that I was involved with. I was ready for another change and realized that I would have never progressed as far as I did if it wasn’t for the Western Colorado Conservation Corps.

My first time there I grew as a confident individual, team player, environmental enthusiast, and curious creature ready to learn and grow more. Being surrounded by people I wouldn’t normally surround myself with was great for challenging my social skills and work compatibility/flexibility. With so many different kinds of projects in so many great places I was exposed to a better view of the world and how it naturally manages itself and what we can do to make a better impact. But most of all, working at the WCCC gave me faith that I was able to do anything if I put my mind to it. I always tending to be more introverted and apathetic, yet after working there I felt like I discovered a passion within me. The desire to always better myself, to never give up, and fight until the end. No great change can occur if people aren’t willing to sacrifice something to attain a great gain and I felt that the WCCC sacrificed a lot for me to grow and I am forever grateful to them for that.

That’s why this year, 2014 I decided to apply again as a crew leader to help find more personal guidance as I help others find a path that suits their needs. My crew leaders and office staff always saw the light in me even when I didn't and it was what I needed to mature. I believe once you’ve experienced something its easier to help others find a similar experience. In my case, I hope to offer the youth and young adults of the future to pursue their dreams and find the natural bliss of their true nature. At the corps, I learned more of who I was, and who I am. And I’m happy to say, I’m still learning.