During the past two years working at WeConservePA, I have grown long, intricate branches despite wearing multiple hats. As the Conservation Advocate, I have tracked pro-conservation legislation, helped coordinate the Growing Greener Coalition, and created a great deal of digital content about the benefits of land conservation and state environmental investments. I have also served as the DEIJ Community liaison, overseen the Larry Williamson Scholarship, and created guidance for municipalities seeking to develop an open space preservation program. Thanks to this wide range of projects, I have had the privilege of working with a diverse group of diligent and passionate individuals who strive for a greener and more equitable conservation movement in Pennsylvania.

There is one project in particular that has made me branch out and venture into different pastures. When collecting stories about the benefits of state investments in natural infrastructure projects, I had the pleasure of speaking to various project leaders about the impact that state-funded local parks, rain gardens, or stream stabilization projects had had on their respective communities. I became fascinated by the physical intricacies of these different structures and how to best match their designs to the socio-cultural fabric of the area. This series of stories sparked my newfound interest in the field of landscape architecture, which led to my decision to return to Ecuador later this summer to join my mom’s landscaping business.

After 10 years away, I am excited about the prospect of returning home to continue my growth. I have been dearly welcomed to a community of Pennsylvanian conservationists that aren’t scared of growing and transforming with every season, and I am eager to be an active member of the movement once again soon. After a year of fieldwork, I plan to return to Pennsylvania to pursue a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture and eventually hope I can help design some of the wonderful rain gardens, community parks, and other natural infrastructure projects your organizations bring to life.

Lina Berón Echavarría