Through internships and service learning, Sierra Nevada College students are involved in a local nonprofit organization called Sustainable Tahoe, whose goal is to shift Tahoe’s outdated tourism model to one that connects visitors with Lake Tahoe and inspires a passion to interact with the lake in a sustainable way.
“I knew that I wanted to volunteer with some sort of organization or group that was doing something to help the environment and change people’s current mentality with our over use and abuse of the world we live in,” said Micah Grossman-Christ, a junior studying Sustainability.
Grossman-Christ found Sustainable Tahoe a year ago when one of his classes informed him about the Tahoe Expo, an annual event put on by Sustainable Tahoe. One year later, Grossman-Christ was looking for an organization to volunteer his time for Service Learning, a course required for all Interdisciplinary students.
“Service learning gave me an opportunity to volunteer and help contribute to these events with Sustainable Tahoe,” said Grossman-Christ.
On Sept. 7-8, Grossman-Christ was at the Tahoe Expo volunteering his time to help guide the West Shore Transit geotourism track. Grossman-Christ helped lead a day of exploring the West Shore of Tahoe using alternative transportation. Participants biked six miles down the West Shore, hiked two miles to Eagle Rock, and returned to Tahoe City via water taxi with bikes on board.
“Hiking up to Eagle Rock we were able to see astounding views of the surrounding area,” said Grossman-Christ. “We stopped off at the Tahoe Maritime Museum which had very old classic boats and very cool footage of early boat racing on Lake Tahoe.”
Sophomore Marina McCoy is also volunteering with Sustainable Tahoe. Over the summer, McCoy responded to a Facebook post that said Sustainable Tahoe was looking for interns. She responded with a cover letter and resumé right away, and Sustainable Tahoe called her the next day.
“When I went into the office for the first time, it was just supposed to be a quick meeting, but I ended up staying and talking for four hours,” said McCoy.
Ever since then, McCoy played an integral role in planning the Tahoe Expo, from website duties to volunteer recruiting and promoting.
“Everyone at Sustainable Tahoe has truly inspired me to make a difference,” said McCoy. “They’ve inspired me, and I try to inspire others.”
According to McCoy, there was a great turnout for the Tahoe Expo, but inspiring and educating each individual is Sustainable Tahoe’s goal for the Expo.
“We are part of the change; we can make a difference as individuals,” said McCoy. “I’ve had friends call to tell me that I inspired them to start recycling at their house.”
On Grossman-Christ’s tour of the West Shore, participants were amazed at how easy it was to travel without a car. One member of the tour noted that she plans to keep the car parked in the future, and take advantage of bike paths and public transportation.
“I was able to share the knowledge I have learned at SNC, and the people that attended were very interested and seemed to learn a lot about the local area,” said Grossman-Christ.
Next, Grossman-Christ is planning to create his own unique track, a fun activity that also brings people an awareness of the area and how they can implement changes that will be better for the earth.
Now that the Tahoe Expo is over, McCoy is working on a geotourism booklet that will be available at local hotels and businesses to promote less impactful tourism at Lake Tahoe.