Ambassador Spotlight: Sammy Castonguay

Sammy and his family currently live in Ontario, Oregon where he is the Integrated Science instructor at Treasure Valley Community College. Originally from South Dakota, he stumbled upon Cascadia through receiving his Master’s at the University of Oregon. Bioregionalism has interested Sammy for many years and is what led him to follow the development of CascadiaNow! movement over the years, even after taking his first teaching job across the country at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Having returned to the Cascadia region around a year ago, Sammy jumped at the opportunity to become a founding member of CascadiaNow! and take on a more active role by enthusiastically educating others about bioregionalism and seeking collaboration with other local groups to create a positive impact on the southeastern Cascadia community and beyond.  

What is Cascadia to you?

A model for the future. A shift to a Bioregional-oriented mindset of culture, trade, economy, and community is underway and will prove to be the most resilient model of co-habitation with each other and the environment. The movement, and CN!’s place within that movement, is important to define that shift. Pockets of people all over the nation are starting to place more emphasis on local within the context of the culture, trade, and economy. We, as a society, forge our way forward into a more sustainable future, it is this concept that will prove the key.

How did you become a part of the Cascadia movement?

Southeast Cascadia is a little different both culturally and environmentally. The underlying ideas of preservation, conservation, environmental justice, and human justice are still here but not the underlying idea of being unified. I thought that I would step up into that role.

I lived in Eugene during graduate school and discussed bioregionalism with my friends quite a bit. I came across the CascadiaNow! movement through Reddit and continued to follow posts even after I moved across the country where I took my first teaching job at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Last spring, a teaching position opened up back here in Cascadia around last spring when CascadiaNow! was having its founding membership drive. I decided to donate to the movement and become a founding member which has cascaded down into my further involvement.

What was your first event as an Ambassador like?

Getting involved with the ambassador program lined up around the same time that the Friends of the Owyhee [a grassroots organization that supports protecting the Owyhee Canyonlands by organizing trips and informing the public] asked me to lead a geology tour. I saw the opportunity to ask if CascadiaNow! could do a joint event. We decided to do a camping trip that consisted of a geology tour of the Succor Canyon on Saturday and a combined trash cleanup and removal of invasive plants in the Succor Creek camping area on Sunday.

It became this collaboration between Friends of the Owyhee, Cascadia Now!, as well as Bureau of Land Management who provided the tools to remove the invasive plants. This kind of Collaboration is the key, there are a lot of people with great ideas doing things and if we can start collaborating and supporting one another, we are destined for better outcomes.

Do you have any future events planned?

April 30th is Ontario Serve Day where professionals and volunteers alike take their skills out into the community where work needs to be done. I have registered CascadiaNow! as a group so people interested in the organization can hop onto our group and once again collaborate and volunteer within the community.

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