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Eric Cole and Alexander O'Keefe: Volunteer your time to help families experience nature while actively being part of the solution

As the Portland area continues to address our climate crisis, it's important for us to remember on this Earth Day that we all have a role to play, no matter how small.COURTESY PHOTO: MONTE HARRIS - Eric Cole and Alexander O'Keefe are best friends who are helping start a new nonprofit organization, Earth On The Edge.

Earth On The Edge is the region's newest conservation nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and restoration of Oregon's diverse habitats. Created by Happy Valley resident Monte Harris out of passion — and brought to life by two Oregon State University alumni, now master's degree students studying various environmental subjects — EOTE will be celebrating its first Earth Day this April.

While getting our undergrad degrees, we realized the need to address and protect the Pacific Northwest's unique and diverse landscapes while safeguarding the important ecosystem services these lands provide to local communities.

Both 25 years old, we decided to leave the Pacific Northwest to continue our education at the University of California Santa Barbara and the University of Michigan. We hope to return to the Pacific Northwest and use our acquired knowledge and professional skills to create environmental solutions through nonprofit, community engagement and legislative work.

Eric Cole is pursuing degrees in environmental economics/politics and corporate environmental management, with an emphasis on nonprofit management at UCSB's Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. A longtime Oregon Zoo volunteer since 2012, he aspires to keep to those roots.

Using his professional skills and interdisciplinary background, Cole hopes to collaborate with decision-makers to create conservation easements for a better future for wildlife and wildlands.

Alexander O'Keefe is pursuing an environmental policy degree supplemented by conservation and ecosystem science coursework at U-M's School for Environment and Sustainability. Using his conservation science background, O'Keefe aims to create comprehensive policy for the establishment of more sustainable management practices that preserve local ecosystems.

Rounding out the team, EOTE President Monte Harris really runs the operation. Harris works tirelessly to help network, educate, organize and lead local public invasive ivy removal events. Before the founding of EOTE, Harris witnessed the decline in native tree populations as a result of invasive English ivy.

To date, Harris has saved more than 3,000 trees from English ivy throughout Clackamas County. Through his endless and unwavering passion, EOTE was born.

In light of Earth Day, there are numerous ways to get involved and support our community. Donating to EOTE and other environmentally minded nonprofits is a fantastic way to support local organizations and their missions in promoting community sustainability and habitat conservation.

Another great pathway is to simply volunteer your time. There are several amazing local volunteer organizations, including EOTE, that can allow families to learn and experience nature while actively being part of the solution.

For those who want to apply their professional skills to our organization's mission and serve in a volunteer leadership role, we're looking for a treasurer and vice president to help expand EOTE's impact. Additionally, EOTE is hiring a local summer social media intern. We're looking for an undergraduate student that can, among other responsibilities, help create and maintain EOTE's social media platforms.

Earth On The Edge directors Eric Cole and Alexander O'Keefe are two best friends and lifelong environmental activists. To apply for EOTE positions, send a cover letter and resume to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To see the full internship qualifications and details, visit EOTE's website.


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