A Fond Farewell

I have always been of the opinion that restoring our relationship with place and with each other is one of the most important building blocks of ecological restoration. When I graduated in 2019, I was ready to do something different – something that would make a difference.

I knew I wanted to work for Friends of the Eel River, so I became a volunteer.

I first volunteered with FOER at the 2019 Round Valley Blackberry Festival in Covelo. I remember being impressed by people’s love for the river and their strong desire to do more. Alicia and I juggled questions about the “two basin solution”, sold merchandise, and shared in passionate appreciation of the river. The sense of interconnectedness was tangible, right there in front of me – the dams, the story of rainbow trout genetics, the incredibly diverse native fishes, the sweet blackberries, and the beautiful river. I left Covelo feeling a sense of purpose and passion.

Wow – how time flies! It has been an incredible gift to work for Friends of the Eel River for almost 3 years now. I feel blessed to have worked with such outstanding and compassionate people as Alicia and Scott. They are precious gems to treasure. I felt comfortable being completely open with them, free and fully supported to express my thoughts and worries. I have been encouraged to grow and my personal wins celebrated. We keep it real, and I cannot ask for a better work environment.

It has been an educational experience navigating the fluid world of social media and environmental advocacy. I am proud of the momentum we have built to FREE THE EEL!

Most importantly, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to use our platform to share Indigenous Voices in this work to remove dams and save salmon. Our social media following continues to grow as we gain social momentum pushing PG&E and FERC to do the right thing, not just for the fish, but to right the historical injustices created by the Potter Valley Project in the first place.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned that I’d like to pass along is – you are not alone. In my senior capstone class, Bill Trush asked us to write our thoughts about Aldo Leopold’s quote “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.” I, again, call bullshit. Working for FOER plunged me into a diverse coalition of environmental advocates, restoration agencies, scientists, and citizens working to recover the Eel River. And every time I introduced myself, I was thanked for the work of Friends of the Eel River. Our advocacy is one voice for many.

Aldo was an ecologist after all, he should’ve known better – no creature is truly alone, even in despair.

We are a community, an interconnected community. We are never alone in this world of wounds. We have each other. And we have the capacity to heal. It never ceases to amaze me what we can do together. While working for FOER, I have witnessed such passion, such care, such thirst for change. I so want to live in a world where we don’t have to fight for the Earth, but until we’re there, I am thankful to be arm in arm with people who see a better world ahead.

-Be A Good Ancestor and Save Soil,

Jen Hildreth