Inside Job: RiverLink Intern Pays It Forward While Giving Back

Hello! My name is Devin Tyler, and for the past four months I’ve been an intern at RiverLink. I was finishing a little over 10 years as a linguist in the military when I reached out asking about an internship, with the intention to have a job that let me work outside while I adjusted to civilian life. Almost immediately after I started working here I was impressed by my coworkers’ knowledge and work ethic, the numerous social and ecological victories RiverLink has achieved for the community, and their long- term goals to keep improving Asheville and its watershed.

To give an idea of my time here: on my second day at work I helped a coworker teach a class on erosion and waterborne pollution to a third-grade class using a stream simulation table. The next day I was wandering up and down streams in the River Arts District doing trash pickup. After that I learned to identify and properly remove multiflora rose, Japanese honeysuckle, porcelain berry, and many other invasive species that threaten our native ecosystems. I have been asked to lead volunteer groups, offer my opinion on ongoing projects, and teach ecological lessons to schoolchildren. I’ve been allowed to hop between jobs, wear many hats, and work both independently and as part of a team. My point is that since I walked into the Riverlink office I have constantly learned, worked hard, and felt like I have genuinely contributed to this community. Most importantly, I got to meet the RiverLink team, each member of which I have developed a deep respect and admiration for. They are intelligent, passionate stewards who give so much to the environment and their community, and I am proud to have worked alongside them all. I have been exposed to a level of expertise, professionalism, enthusiasm, and honest care that I don’t think I’ve seen anywhere else.

With just a few days left in my internship, I’ll be genuinely sad to go. I’m leaving to pursue a degree, travel, and help develop and expand urban farming in the U.S., and I’m excited to do so–but I recognize how rare an organization like RiverLink is, and I am so grateful for my time here. I really believe that for the rest of my life this place will be the gold standard for how an office should be run, and how work should feel. Thanks you guys, I’ll come visit whenever I can.