I’m a rising fourth year Ph.D. student at Alliant International University: California School of Professional Psychology (Los Angeles), as well as the Summer Nature Advocacy Intern at The Wilderness Society (TWS). As a psychology student and environmentalist, my mission is to bridge the gap between mental health and the environmental movement by spotlighting the benefits of nature on mental health. I was excited to receive an invitation to join San Gabriel Mountains Forever (SGMF) on a trip to Washington, D.C., to talk about the coalition’s work and legislative goals. These are my observations.

What Surprised Me:
Before going to Washington, D.C., I wondered if Congress members would listen to me and care about the importance of my work as an intern. However, I was repeatedly encouraged to speak by the leadership at both SGMF and TWS about my work to staffers and Congress members during our meetings. I was pleasantly surprised by the energy with which the staffers, as well as Congresswoman Judy Chu, responded when the other volunteers and I spoke about our projects.

What We Talked About:
Collectively, our work focuses on the importance of planting native plants, the versatility of Yucca leaves, and the integration of nature-based therapy into psychology.

What I’m Still Thinking About:
“Your voice matters” is a sentiment that can feel cliche and disingenuous. But I know my voice made an impact this time, especially when speaking to Joseph Ciccone, the Congressional staffer for Grace Napolitano, and Congresswoman Judy Chu. Because of this trip, I am grateful, empowered, restored, recharged, and inspired.

— Evelyn Shieh

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