By Mona Blaber
Shannon Romeling is the newest member of our chapter Executive Committee and an active part of Water Sentinels — Rios de Taos
What do you do for a living?
I am Projects and Foundations coordinator at Amigos Bravos. Amigos Bravos is a non-profit water-conservation organization whose mission is to protect and restore the waters of New Mexico. My title means that I split my time between project work and foundation work. Foundation work involves searching for grants, writing grant proposals and writing grant reports. As a biologist, my project work includes water quality sampling, river otter monitoring, and outreach/education for the community.
How did you get interested in protecting the environment/water?
I grew up in rural upstate New York at the base of a small mountain. My parents owned 150 acres of the mountain behind our house that I could call my backyard. Growing up I always wanted to help animals but I wasn’t quite sure how. I knew I didn’t want to be a vet, and as I grew older I saw that biology was a perfect fit for me. I focused on mammals and habitat protection at first. Now that my focus is water, I really enjoy it because instead of working to protect one mammal or a certain mammal’s habitat, I get to protect water for ALL of the organisms that rely on it – so everything!
How did you get involved with the Sierra Club?
I was involved a little bit with the Sierra Club in college but became involved again through the Sierra Club program Water Sentinels. Amigos Bravos’ yearly sampling in partnership with the Sierra Club was one of the first projects I got to work on.
What was your first Rio Grande Chapter Executive Committee meeting like?
It was so illuminating! It made me feel motivated and enthusiastic about being a part of such an important and influential organization. I also felt very welcomed and valued as a new member, and I appreciated that very much.
What are some of your hobbies?
Walking/hiking with my dogs, yoga, music and reading fantasy books.
What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had as an activist?
Recently I have become more politically active locally here in Taos and try to participate in any pro-rights and pro-environment rallies or marches that I can. My most memorable activist experience would have been when a bunch of us in college took buses down to Washington D.C. to participate in the protests against drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge going on at the time. At that time in my life, it was very impactful for me to see so many people fighting for what they thought was important, and to get to be a part of it!
What do you think is most important to be doing now?
I think the most important thing at this time of immense divide in our country is for environmental groups to make sure that they are working TOGETHER to accomplish the same goals.
If someone wants to volunteer to protect the environment but doesn’t know how, what would you tell them?
I would tell them that it is the best way they could spend their time! And that it is the best way to teach your children how to be stewards for their environment. Find a local river cleanup to join, for example, and bring the kiddos!
What’s your favorite activity this summer?
My favorite thing this summer is getting out of town to explore new places. I think I can safely say that is my favorite thing every summer!