Alumni Profiles

Debbie Pattison, SLEWS Program Alumni

Debbie Pattison

Alumnus, 2005-2006 SLEWS Program, DaVinci High School (Davis)
University of California, Berkeley (Conservation and Resource Studies) 2011

I can still remember that winter morning at my first SLEWS event. It was a tule fog morning and the hillsides were beginning their ephemeral parade of emerald seedlings. As most high school students would, I power walked to the snack table where strange but delicious carob chunks were awaiting us. Even years later I felt appreciated that we were given something more than empty cookies and chips to fuel our day, and

I try to take this subtle lesson to every event I plan. After some ice breakers we started planting along the creek side. The five senses used in planting was a refreshing difference to the classroom atmosphere. At the same time, it was still an intellectual experience because graduate students would stop by and discuss the fascinating ecology of the plants. At the end of the day I felt wonderfully grateful to be part of the serenity of Winter's hillsides. I hoped it felt the same way for me. This reciprocal need for gratitude continued into college as I received a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley.

The natural resources path has allowed me to conduct medical ethobotanical research in Brazil, analyze and measure forest health, increase seed production for semi-rare California annual species, manage volunteer native plant nursery events and teach youth about Puget Sound ecology in Washington State. In between jobs I had the opportunity to give back to SLEWS as a mentor, as a Caring for our Watersheds reader and as a networker who created new ties with SLEWS and Aspire High School in Sacramento. I also was a high school biology teaching assistant with Ms. Sandberg, the teacher who brought me out to SLEWS in the very beginning.

Out of the many institutions I've supported, the Center for Land Based Learning genuinely has a caring and helpful staff. I couldn't be more blessed by the help of Beth del Real, Matt Lechmaier, Nina Suzuki, and Sherri Sandberg for making my this winter once again a winter of receiving and giving.