Kat Lyons ’12: A Wilderness Superhero!

An Indian Creek (ICS) “lifer,” Kat Lyons ’12 still wears her class ring when out in the field working for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) because it reminds her of her roots in the ICS community and how it helped her become an engaged and inspired member of society.

Kat is a "Wilderness Super Fellow," or Wilderness Fellow Coordinator for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship (SWS) in partnership with the USFS and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute. The SWS is a non-profit working towards promoting excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship, science, and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness. Kat’s job is to help provide oversight, coordination, and management of the Wilderness Fellows Program across the nation working on wilderness from West Virginia to California.

Kat’s journey began during her time at ICS from Kindergarten through 12th grade. She then went on to study Environmental Science & Policy and Government at Smith College where she graduated in 2016. She says, “I have a passion for protecting and preserving natural resources and have had the privilege to take part in a variety of opportunities to gain a greater perspective on the challenges that natural resource agencies face. I strive to better understand how natural resource policy is developed and implemented and how science should contribute to ensuring that policy is based on a sound foundation.” Kat’s experiences in both field work and policy landed her with the USFS (where she studied Big Horn Sheep and Sage Grouse with wildlife biologists), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (where she helped to provide urban areas access to green spaces), and the Land & Water team for the White House Council on Environmental Quality (where she interned and gained national policy experience). When she began the Wilderness Fellowship, she found it to be a perfect nexus of fieldwork and policy, allowing her to engage at the regional level and the local level with Forest Service staff across this region to understand the larger implications of managing public lands across this nation.

Kat says, “ICS challenged me to not be afraid to fail. By providing the security to try new things and explore my talents and skills through academics, arts, and athletics, I was able to pursue a wide range of interests fueling my curiosity, establishing my independence, perseverance, and the joy of exploration.” Kat’s favorite ICS memory is CreekFest because, as she says, “this event has always highlighted the commitment between parents, students and faculty. To this day, this event allows us to come together as a community to celebrate the incredible skills and talents every single student brings to this family.” Kat also fondly recalls the open conversations that were at the heart of any class taken with the late Mr. Chip Voros. “[Mr. Voros] inspired me to push boundaries and challenge ideas. He taught us all to be passionate and question everything, defend our ideas and root our conversation in knowledge. Mr. V taught us all that to succeed you must be lifelong learners and contribute to society through listening, debating and challenging the status quo within the community you make for yourself in this life.”

Kat has the following advice for current Creekers who wish to follow her path: “Be open minded, embrace every challenge, explore every opportunity, and respect and support one another. Indian Creek is a family.” Kat looks forward to seeing ICS grow and inspire the next generation of leaders.