|Kids check out some wildlife at Tualatin's Soul River event. When we asked Kim for photos, she said she is always the one behind the camera, so she sent some of her work. Credit: USFWS
Kim Strassburg, the visitor services manager at Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, has been a key player in the ground-up development of visitor facilities, the opening of the refuge to the public, and an integrated education, recreation and volunteer program designed to engage urban people in the outdoors. Kim says her primary duty is to coordinate good people to do good things, which is what she is best at. Her reward comes from looking out the window and seeing wide-eyed youngsters participating in volunteer-led programs, hearing many different languages spoken at the annual Tualatin River Bird Festival, making new connections with community organizations who share common goals, and hiring young adults and nurturing up and coming conservation professionals. Like many Service employees, her day is anything but typical. In the morning, she might call the plumber (got to keep those public facilities working!), then she might work on a funding proposal and finally she might spend time outdoors helping folks experience nature.
5 questions for Kim
1. Did you grow up in a city? If so, where, and what enabled you to develop a connection with nature? If not, why is urban outreach important to you?
I grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and Indianapolis, Indiana. My connection to nature started as a young child. I have memories of: catching bluegill at the local reservoir (which also provided city drinking water); catching bugs and frogs in my backyard, which backed up the interstate highway; and catching grief from elementary schools teachers when they found out I had brought praying mantises and earthworms into the classroom after recess.