Stella Barrett is back! Stella (they/them) volunteered with us last fall and has returned as a paid intern for the spring. Below is an edited Q & A with Stella, conducted by volunteer Mary Kaull. 


What made you want to return this semester?

  • I love the flexibility that Nature At The Confluence provides, where I can plan events or I can be standing in waders and cleaning the creek. I love the events and the opportunity to spend time outside.

Did anything surprise you while volunteering last semester?

  • I was surprised by how much it takes to run an organization all by yourself. Julie needed help with such a wide range of things. On the other hand, it’s also surprising to see how much help she can get. Almost everyone who works for her is a volunteer and they come from all over to help. Board members who have always loved the outdoors, or students who need volunteer hours, or folks who are just passionate and willing to help. It’s a super great community. That’s another thing I like about working there. I’m big on community!

How does this experience relate to what you want to do in the future?

  • I hope to host an event later this spring that will translate into a research project and symposium presentation for my Environmental Studies Arts and Communication major at Beloit College. This internship is giving me practice in networking, running events, professional social media skills, marketing, and environmental education curriculum building. I hope to be an environmental educator at a nonprofit (and probably in the Midwest) so this experience is exactly what I need. 

What are your summer and post-grad plans?

  • I am spending the summer in Cincinnati, Ohio., working at Gorman Heritage Farm‘s environmental education camp. I will be teaching kids about animal care, sustainable farming, and outdoor skills. After that, I will look for work closer to home in Chicago. Further down the line, I think I will end up going to grad school. I definitely want a break from homework for a little while, though!

How do you feel about winter weather?

  • I love the first snow, but I do end up getting sick of the winter weather. It’s a beautiful season and I love snowshoeing and ice fishing, but other than that I’m not a huge fan of winter sports. Last time I went sledding I broke my shoulder, so snow sports usually scare me.

Pictured: Stella reading to participants of The Gingerbread Baby Adventure event, January 2023.