So there I was, sitting comfortably, a member of the notorious Trails Across Texas trail crew. Plucked from my crew and thrown into Mississippi to lead a crew of young adults I had never met. It was a coastal restoration project that was just in its infancy. I start thinking; Do I really want this? (I did), Am I going to make it through this? (I did). I asked for it. I wasn’t really pulled against my will and dragged to southern Mississippi, but that’s what it seemed I was doing to myself.
It’s been ten years since Katrina hit the coast. Is there really that more to do? There was, and there always will be. To plan, in preparation, for future events and relying on the strength of a natural eco system rather than improper civil development of coastal water ways. This was the plan put in place by our partners for this project. The Nature Conservancy had set forth a methodical assessment of coastal streams and bayous along the entire Mississippi coast. My co-leader and I would take our crew of young adults along these water ways by kayak to preform assessments. We conducted a visual inspection of the area, a water quality test, and caught aquatic wildlife to determine ecosystem health. For many weeks, we learned how all of these things affect storm surges and flooding. It was all very exciting.
This was all mostly new and foreign to everyone. Which is one thing that made the experience so great. We had to create our own best practices and procedures. You could say we were building the plane as we were flying it. Which gave us an interesting sense of freedom. There were struggles and obstacles to overcome. I am a very eager individual. I compulsively do things to the best of my ability. Knowing when to step back to let others do their part is something that tends to get in the way of this. Sometimes it can be very frustrating to let someone figure things out for themselves, especially when you could just do it faster yourself. It’s been challenging to overcome. In this setting some might say it was rewarding to watch someone overcome their challenges and show personal growth because of it. But, this was different. My crew and I went through that experience together. Everyone overcame obstacles and challenges. We all grew together as one, but in many different directions. Similar, maybe, to the many tributaries and meanders of a bayou.
Welp, the two months are over. Now I’m off to some community flood relief in central Texas before heading back to Austin to reconvene with the old trail crew.