By: Jake Paun, BECY Intern
My introduction to Borderlands Restoration Network (BRN) was in 2015 after applying for their pilot year of the Borderlands Earth Care Youth (BECY) Institute in Douglas, Arizona. I, then 16, attended my interview in formal attire from spit-shined loafers to a silk-tie and was interviewed by a kind-hearted, long-haired gentleman wearing a flannel long-sleeved shirt and hiking sandals. Since then, I have carried on multiple positions and am currently a long-term intern under this same gentleman.
Over the years, Borderlands Restoration Network has been more than a place of work to me – it has been a place of belonging, a place of learning and growth, and an escape from the anthropological jungle of our current society. I have strengthened physically, mentally, and emotionally while providing rehabilitation efforts for the delicate landscape many of us call home. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be who or where I am today without ever having answered questions with this gentleman 5 years ago to become one of the first of many BECY Interns.
I devote many of my successes, friendships, awards, knowledge, dreams, and goals to the programming and people I have met during my involvement with BRN. With that being said, I will soon be moving on to my dream career of protecting our Nation’s borders as an Agricultural Specialist with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As I have learned from my involvement over the last 5 years, it is important to not only protect our immediate landscape, but also our nation as a whole.
It has been a joy to trade loafers and ties for lace-up boots and bandanas, and now it is time for me to trade it for tactical boots and a badge. I cannot thank BRN and their staff, collaborators, and partners enough for allowing me to find this goal within me over the last 5 years I did not know existed and feel ever confident in continuing to fill their mission of supporting a healthy and vibrant borderland ecosystem as we know and love.
For those of you who have not spent enough time with this kind-hearted gentleman to know him by the clues I have used to describe him, this gentleman is Caleb Weaver, the trailblazer who allowed me and countless other small-town youth to share this opportunity.
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