Civic Engagement

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement has become a central component of the SMC’s vision. At first, this was all about getting work done. I had encountered conditions in the forest which frustrated me, so I started doing something about it. But as I began taking more people into the woods to work, and seeing the transformation they went through, the SMC became about people, about providing an enriching experience for volunteers.

Southern Oregon University students at Babyfoot Lake after whoopin trail into shape

Volunteers don’t just go home with new work skills and an authentic appreciation for public service. They go home with a graduated sense of confidence. For most of our volunteers, this is the most challenging experience of their life so far. On our hike back to the trailhead, after working for eight days at a time in the Wilderness, volunteers live the outcomes of their commitment.

They walk over a trail which they preserved without help from technology or mechanization, a trail that would have been lost, and that process becomes a metaphor. When they return home, many SMC volunteers — as told by volunteer Matt Cortese — start removing the brush and clutter of daily life, uncovering and revealing their own inner-path.

While I take pride in the fact that our outcomes can be measured by the mile, I take greater pride in the direct impact the SMC has on peoples’ lives.

-Gabe Howe