Patagonia Meets the Tongass: Welcoming our Summer Salmon Intern Mary Looby


Patagonia Intern Mary Looby paddles a packraft at Redoubt Lake. Mary is working at SCS for 3 weeks this summer learning about Tongass salmon management and advocacy. 


One of the great benefits of working for Patagonia is the opportunity to volunteer for an environmental non-profit (while still getting my regular paycheck). I have been a frequent visitor to Southeast Alaska (mostly kayaking), but I had never been to Sitka before. I researched groups in the Southeast, and selected Sitka Conservation Society as the group wanted to work with.

I coordinated with the wonderful folks at SCS, and they have designed a work plan for me focusing on understanding salmon and the Tongass. And what an incredible relationship there is…

I especially love wild places (and Alaska has some of the wildest)! I believe that in order to preserve these places, we must support them, responsibly protect them, restore them, and share them with everyone who ‘owns’ them so they understand the value of these places. Back in my home in Ventura, we have the 1.95 million acre Los Padres National Forest which is the wilderness in my backyard (although it’s not much like the Tongass temperate rainforest – about 10 inches of rain have fallen to date, about half of ‘normal’). I am interested in ecology, water, fish, trees, birds, plants, and everything else that makes ecosystems work. I volunteer doing habitat restoration, invasives removal, wildlife monitoring, clean ups and trail work in LPNF.

My goal for the three weeks of my volunteer internship is to understand more about salmon and the Tongass. How the salmon feed the forest and how the forest sustains the salmon. To understand the value that salmon provide not only to the forest but to the people of Southeast Alaska – in terms of food and economics. To understand how the forest is being managed to support the sustainability of salmon as an incredible resource.

I want to be an advocate for the Tongass – it is a national treasure, a public resource owned by all of us. And I want to spend as much time outdoors in this beautiful place as I can!

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