July 5, 2012


Susie with Billy the Lamb
Hi! My name is Susie Parrish, and I'm the new intern at Windward. I am a second year majoring in Agricultural Systems Management at California Polytechnic State University.

My passion for agriculture germinated from growing up on two and a half acres in the rural part of the Bay Area in California. Being the youngest of 5 children and having a fairly big piece of property, I had the opportunity to raise pigs, chickens, turkeys, a horse, rabbits, quail, two labrador retrievers, fish and even plant a garden. My childhood consisted of being outdoors whether it was duck hunting, fishing, gold prospecting, or camping.

Being involved in amazing programs such as 4H and the national FFA Organization led to agriculture and leadership experiences throughout elementary and high school. Through FFA, I raised and showed market hogs for the local county fair. It wasn't until my sophomore year of high school, with the help of an Agriculture/Environmental Science class, that I discovered my passion for environmental science and how agriculture needed to grow toward more sustainable approaches. This path led me to be the first student in my FFA chapter to start the sustainable system of beekeeping.

After working in the Ag industry for the last two summers and deepening my education at Cal Poly, I knew I was ready to take on more challenges and to get involved with world changing, hands-on, projects.

I was attracted to the Windward Education and Research Center for five main reasons:

Multnomah Falls

I believe that it is up to my generation, the 20-something-year-olds, to better the methods of how food, fuel and fiber is produced, harvested, and distributed in order to help the environment provide for us, our children, our children's children and so on. The important thing is not that we gained this information and have it sound good in theory, but actually apply these methods and put them to real use.

I arrived in Portland by train 19 hours into the start of my journey. This beautiful city was where I met my host, Opalyn. Our first mission was to host "Bunnies in the Backyard", an event where we brought kits, baby rabbits, to Sunnyside Environmental School for children to play with. Since I absolutely love kids, I was thrilled at the opportunity.

From here, we took on the drive to my soon to be home for the summer. As we drove along the Columbia River, it was fascinating to see the hillsides change from a wet, moss thriving environment to a drier pine and oak tree environment. As I looked out my window I noticed the beauty of the numerous waterfalls including Multnomah Falls, which looked like something right out of the "Lord of the Rings" movie. When I arrived at the end of the driveway, I was invited by the setting sun, blinding me through the clearing of the trees.

The setting sun at Windward
I took this as a sign that this was the right place for my internship. I finally arrived at the land of possibilities. I was soon greeted by my Windward family, introduced to homestead living and shown the amazing life-changing projects I will be a part of this summer. I have learned so much from being here for such a short amount of time. I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity for this internship and am really excited to get my feet wet in the multiple sustainable projects Windward has to offer!