My name is Emma Gesiriech. I was born named “Oksana” in Irkutsk, Russia and adopted from an orphanage when I was 5 1/2 years old. My sister, brother (also from Russia) and I moved to Iowa, where we were raised. Growing up, I naturally had a genuine love and respect for our environment. To me, there’s no better place than outside.
I had the chance to move to Oregon when I was 20. Oregon secured my love for the great outdoors. After 3 years in LaGrande, I met some travelers and hopped on a freight train with them. Traveling via hitchhiking and train hopping, I ended up back in Iowa. It was perfect timing as my sister was close to giving birth to Sophia, my niece. I cared for Sophia while my sister worked, the first year or so, of her life! After about a year and a half, I decided to move to the East Coast.
My Aunt Sarah took me as her roommate, and my new life began. I had enrolled in a community college back in Iowa, twice. Once right out of High school. A year later the second time. Both times I ended up dropping out. I had gotten my first part-time job the day of my 14th birthday, as a dietary assistant. After working there for five years, I was fired due to lack of performance – I was getting in trouble with “partying” and eventually the law.
As I grew older, the consequences for my actions were not as forgiving. The time to choose which direction I was going to take my life in had come. I never understood when people would say, “Jail was the best thing that has ever happened to me” until it happened to me. After years of working in restaurants, hard-partying, and poor decision making, I had to find a new way of life. I knew there was something out there for me and I wasn’t willing to give up.
One night, walking to an outdoor concert at Navy Yard, my aunt and I came across the “Pumphouse” It was a Friday night and I now know why the building was open -Friday Night Fishing!! I went in, and asked for information on how to become a volunteer, with Earth Conservation Corps. Apparently, I was a good candidate for the AmeriCorps program. Before I knew it, I was a corps member at Earth Conservation Corps!
I couldn’t believe I was actually here. Every day throughout my term, my love for Earth Conservation Corps and their mission grew more and more. This is what I’ve been hoping for my whole life. I believe the earth deserves so much more
then what a lot of people throw at it – pun intended! I worked hard and loyally for 4 months. January, 2019 I was hired on as a full-time employee at Earth Conservation Corps.
It’s always been my dream to work with animals – specifically wildlife. I hadn’t given up on it, however, decided it was a “maybe one day” THAT DAY WAS HERE. Part of my job at Earth Conservation Corps is to help present, care for, and manage our raptors and I couldn’t be happier. I love my job and am still amazed by this dream come true.
Since then, I’ve began volunteering at Owl Moon Raptor Center, and am now an apprentice falconer. I’m so excited to use falconry as a way to help conserve these magnificent birds! The mortality rate of wild raptors is 70 – 80%. One raptor at a time, I hope to release my birds healthier, stronger, and a better hunter, than when they came into my care.
I’m super excited everyday about my new life. I hope to become a wildlife rehabilitator for ECC. Earth Conservation Corps has kept me grounded in so many ways. Today, I can say I’m happy, and feel accomplished. I have found my purpose. There’s no better feeling than to pay it forward, and this job allows me to do that every single day. I am so grateful.