Read about Darcy’s reflection on the nonprofit world in Missoula:
Missoula, Montana is home to over 1,200 registered nonprofits. The nonprofits’ missions range from promoting roller derby to enhancing childhood education, and there is a nonprofit for almost every interest and cause. In many ways, such nonprofit “depth and breadth” enriches and supports the Missoula community. People, no matter what their passion, are able to find a sympathetic group and nonprofits are able to find support and collaboration with other nonprofits that share their mission.
However, such a number of nonprofits can also lead to challenges. Missoula ALWAYS has something going on. And it’s usually more than one something. Event overlap is inevitable, and it can be difficult to make sure that you are adding value to the community instead of detracting from another valuable mission.
Overall, though, the challenges are more than worth it. During my service term, I’ve collaborated with a huge variety of nonprofits and other environmental groups. With Montana State Parks, I facilitated presentations on wildlife habitat; Montana Public Radio gave me the opportunity to enhance my public media skills by reading a short Field Note. I organized a movie night with the Roxy Theater to motivate people to take action about Colony Collapse Disorder. At community events like Out to Lunch, I provided kids’ activities and tabled in order to teach people about Gardening for Wildlife through cooperation with the Missoula Downtown Association.
All of these experiences taught me how to be more effective in both my personal and professional lives. Even better, I’ve learned how to be a stronger team player. I’ve seen firsthand how welcoming nonprofits and businesses are to new initiatives, I hope to follow their example.
Darcy McKinley Lester studied forestry science at Pennsylvania State University with a focus in forest biology. Her junior year, she spent five months at the Australian National University where I focused on forest policy and international forestry. Darcy is serving with the National Wildlife Federation in Missoula, helping certify the community as a wildlife habitat and furthering the Eco-School initiative in the state.