KATY HAIMA

Faville Grove Intern 2007

Graduated University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010

Current position: Policy Analyst, Seattle Planning Commission (Seattle, WA)

Favorite memory of the program: My favorite memory is from sitting in the dappled shade of a bur oak tree with my fellow interns after a hard days work eradicating wild parsnips.

Impact of the program on your academic and/or career path: That was the summer that my relationship with nature went from enjoying nature to realizing my place in it, and my dependence on it. I learned that the prairie was an infinitely fascinating place, where the majesty of spreading bur oaks instilled as much awe as the precise detail of a fringed orchid, or how purple my hands turned after collecting spiderwort seeds for an afternoon.

The prairie is never the same two days in a row. It constantly evolves, grows, and regenerates. I observed these changes daily, in the smallest of details. My feelings about the prairie were also never the same two days in a row. Some days were idyllic; others were cold, wet, or chigger-infested. The realization that one could never know exactly and objectively where everything was in this place filled me with the possibility of exploration and inspired me daily. Although most of the prairies are now labeled on Google maps, at the time of my tenure they were not, which always brought a quote from Moby Dick to mind: “It is not down in any map; true places never are.”

I formed a more intimate and meaningful relationship with the prairie and my fellow interns. David and Roger were our role models on how love for place grounds us and influences how we exist on this Earth. My love for connecting people and nature through the medium of place inspired me to become a placemaking professional: I returned to school to earn a masters degree in urban planning.

I now live in a city where a clear day rewards you with view of Mt. Rainier rising out of the south; where the ocean, mountains, beaches and collide in grand, sweeping views; and where I work on the 20th floor of an office tower. But the lessons I learned from my summer on the prairie have formed the foundation of how I approach my part in making the world a better pace.

How you used what you learned in the internship in future employment:  While I have never again girdled an aspen or mowed fields of canary grass, I learned fundamental principles in ecology, botany, history, friendship, and agriculture that provide me with a more complete picture of how all the pieces fit together. While I do not deal directly with many of these issues, my role as a public policy adviser depends on my ability to think critically about systems and their resiliency. I did learn how to drive a manual transmission truck that summer, which comes in handy quite often.