Master of Environmental Studies

Student Profile

James Harrington, Class of 2014, Fisheries Restoration

Image of MES student James HarringtonWhere are you from?
I was born in Austin, Texas, but moved to the Puget Sound region when I was only a few weeks old. My mom’s side of the family is comprised of Russian and Scandinavian immigrants, and she was born and raised in Tacoma. When I was 10, our family moved back to Texas. I spent my middle and high school years in the Dallas area before moving to San Marcos, Texas (outside Austin) for my undergraduate education. I spent 3-4 years in Austin after graduation and moved back to the Puget Sound area in fall of 2010.

What drew you to the MES degree at Evergreen?
The interdisciplinary approach was my primary motivating factor. As indicated below, my undergrad background was in English. Not exactly what one might associate with environmental concerns. However, I have always been extremely interested in the “natural” world in general and fisheries in particular, and how we as humans interact with these realms. When I moved back to Washington, I was quite surprised and concerned about the condition of fisheries here and felt motivated to become involved.  From my initial investigation into the MES degree and especially after orientation, I felt absolutely certain that this program would offer an opportunity to utilize skills I had gained as undergraduate, while cultivating practical knowledge and experience in tackling environmental issues.  Additionally, I recognized the opportunity to interact with and learn collectively with others from a wide array of backgrounds who were interested in the common goals of achieving a more integrated approach to the manner in which we live on our planet.

What do you hope to gain from MES?
As I enter my second year, I have already gained more than I initially could have hoped for from the program. I have developed a working knowledge of multiple aspects of ecology, sociology, history, geography, scientific theory, data collection and analysis of statistics, academic and professional writing…the list could go on. I have had the opportunity to work two internships with a local salmon enhancement group as well as write a grant proposal for a local estuary restoration group. All of this through MES.

What was your previous education and work experience prior to entering MES?
My undergraduate degree is in English with Professional Writing Emphasis. My undergrad minor was in Music. I have worked as a professional musician, worked numerous jobs in the service industry, as a general laborer, and as a professional editor. Currently, (and for six months prior to entering the MES program last year), I work nearly full-time as an employee at a local fly fishing shop.

What are your areas of interest in MES?
Salmon and steelhead fisheries restoration in Washington State are incontrovertibly my primary areas of interest. However, as a direct result of my MES education, I am interested in so much more.  Sociological interactions, climatology, urban and suburban habitat restoration, sustainable forestry practices, geography, the history of ecology and environmentalism… again…the list could go on.

What activities do you enjoy outside of school and work?
I like to fly fish. A lot. It takes me out into the field and allows me to decompress yet still reflect on the work so many of those involved in MES (current students and graduates) are undertaking. I’m also always on the lookout for a good drummer so I can grab my bass and lay down some grooves musically. 

What is your “dream occupation”? What do you see yourself doing after earning your MES degree?
Ideally, I’d love to have the opportunity to work with an organization focused on achieving the restoration and sustainability of Pacific Northwest fisheries and all that might entail. Since we’re dreaming, I’d hope my schedule might involve field operations and restoration efforts (can’t be behind the desk all day!), community and educational outreach, and active policy influence measures. I feel confident that my MES education will put me in the position to start addressing a few of these goals immediately and eventually, more, if not all these goals.

Who has been an inspirational individual in your life?
I’m inspired by people with unwavering perseverance in a variety of circumstances as well as by overt risk takers.  The latter are often sensationalized (frequently with good reason) and the former often under-recognized.  It is imperative to have inspired individuals to draw attention and shake things up, but I think the individuals who are aware of the struggles and discover how to make incremental changes and lead by example are equally important. I reckon that’s an awful lot of individuals!

And anything super interesting you think prospective and currents students should know about you!
While likely not super-pertinent to your MES studies, if anyone is interested in playing some tunes from punk to honky-tonk, folk to funk, reggae to world, or thrash to bebop , I’m always down to play some bass! And did I mention I like to fly fish? A lot…