My name is Louise Ba and I am a senior at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I am from Minneapolis, but my family is originally from Senegal. As a Political Science, Economics, and Public Policy major, it is not easy for me to find ways to connect nature and the outdoors into my career, but I’ve learned to integrate it into my lifestyle. To do this, I joined the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (CCM) the summers of my sophomore and junior years of high school, and learned valuable life lessons.
Bryn Mawr Park, often referred to as Theodore Wirth Park, became a place that I could return to time after time, when making the 2.5 hour drive up to Saint Croix State Park at any time in the year was not accessible to me. The experiences that I had at CCM that brought me peace weren’t always easily and readily available. I couldn’t jump into the water off of Bear Island, or be cocooned by trees with massive trunks and branches that stretched into the sky, or spend early mornings doing yoga and centering exercises. What I could do, however, was wake up and stroll along the long stretches of trail and bike path crossing the river and weaving through the beautiful forest at Bryn Mawr. I could fish with my family with only fishing line and corn as bait, and somehow still manage to catch multiple fish, pictured above. I could sit and stare at the water, and feel that same sense of peace as I inhaled the fresh air, and let the memories flow in.
The first time I remember going to Bryn Mawr was actually on a drive to the house of a dear friend of mine! In the summertime, when I went, there were intramural sand volleyball games happening, cookouts and barbecues, young children running everywhere, and joy around. I couldn’t help but drive a little slower on the way to her house and back, and to let my eyes linger on the beauty before me. It wasn’t long before I ended up visiting for a half an hour, then an hour, and more. Pretty soon, it had cemented itself as a permanent fixture of weekend getaways or when I needed a breather. I found little bits of the moments I cherished at my time with CCM. Bryn Mawr is like a little pocket of CCM that I can hold on to and feel at peace with, and I am so grateful to it for enabling me to nurture my connection with the natural world.