My name is John Seng, and I am thrilled to be working for Oregon Wild as an intern with the Climate and Forests program this summer! Before moving to Portland for my internship I was a lifelong Midwesterner. My affinity for wild places and the natural world stems from a childhood filled with hiking and camping in northern Minnesota, and I feel a deep connection to Lake Superior and the forests that surround it. I have also spent several months canoe camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, one of Minnesota’s greatest natural areas.
I left home in 2010 to study at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, where my love of nature led me to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Biology. During college I had the privilege of spending a semester abroad in Costa Rica, where I conducted agroecological research and experienced the region’s remarkable natural beauty. After I graduated from Grinnell, the growing urgency of the climate crisis prompted me to get involved in environmental activism at the local level, ultimately leading me to pursue a Master’s in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In September I will make the long drive to Minneapolis, where I will complete my final semester of graduate school, after which I hope to return to Oregon and keep working for healthy forests and a healthy climate.
Since beginning my internship in May, I have been working on a whitepaper that will provide climate solutions for privately owned forests here in Oregon. I have already connected with a number of passionate and extremely knowledgeable individuals for input on my project, and I am eager to speak with more people as I continue my research and begin writing the paper. Climate change is daunting, but connecting with people who care about our climate and forests is a wonderful source of hope and inspiration. I am honored to be learning from experts in forest-based climate solutions and supporting the effort with my own work. Right now I am developing three forest policy options that will benefit landowners and local communities while also slowing down climate change. Climate change, racism, and inequality are deeply intertwined in the US and globally, and I am consulting with environmental justice leaders to ensure that the policy solutions I create help to advance equity and justice at local and State levels. I am excited to share my work with the broader Oregon forest conservation community, and hope that it helps inform the work of state policymakers who are tackling the climate crisis.