Riley Dupee, Field Operations Specialist
Well Hi, Friends!
After a summer of interning with the Alliance Trail Program, I am officially part of the team as Field Operations Specialist. So, please stop calling and emailing Mike. You did it. I’m hired. Thank you!
When people ask me how I got here, I admit I saw a post on Instagram. The Alliance was seeking an intern proficient in Microsoft Office, with social media aptitude, and sound judgment (two out of three isn’t bad). Other qualifications included being able to hike with a fully loaded pack, and sleep outside in all kinds of weather. I felt like someone had placed a thumbtack in the corkboard of my heart.
I spent a large part of my childhood, in my family’s campground, entirely unsupervised. My parents were of the “free range children” ideology. My siblings and I spent our days swimming in the Fox River, climbing trees, or catching the local wildlife. I became familiar with the smell of silt, and how it doesn’t leave your nose for days. I know river clams taste better when they’re small, but the big ones make good turtle bait. I know how to avoid catching the really big turtles until Dad is around.
My time in the Army taught me to be patient. Things take time and all you can do is wait, and embrace adversity. I liked soldiers more than I liked the Army; People from all over the world converging on one place for a common task, and a thousand different ideas on how to accomplish it. The “adventure” aspect wore off pretty quickly, but I still played the Indiana Jones theme song in my head when I was about to do something new and exciting. I learned to carry much more than 20% of my body weight, over miles of pavement, in a never-ending line of digital camo. Most importantly I learned that, sometimes, you only get one chance at an incredibly important thing, so you must be decisive.
I’m so excited to be here. I have never felt so welcomed by a community. The summer of 2021 taught me so many great things. Like how to use a chainsaw! Or how after jumping in a lake, you can be labelled “sufficiently bathed”. And that after three days at a project, the clean volunteers are the ones that smell.
It is truly a privilege to learn from all of you. I look forward too many more summers, just like the last.
We look forward to working with Riley to conserve, create, maintain, and promote the Ice Age Trail!