In search of new adventures: celebrating the contribution of work-study

There’s a high likelihood – at some point in college – that you’ll learn something new and do something exciting. Although Riley Marcus is pursuing a degree in earth studies at Whatcom Community College (WCC), he didn’t expect to learn about the reuse industry. He also didn’t expect to be summiting the regions highest mountain peaks along the way.

If we want the Pacific Northwest to stay this beautiful, we have to take care of it, and that involves being smart about what we buy and throw away.

-Riley Marcus.

After starting at WCC in the fall of 2016, Riley learned about Work Study; a federal program that provides part time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allows students to earn money to help pay for education expenses, teaches them about time management, and acts as work experience on a resume. Like most students, he was interested in working for an organization that taught him about a topic related to his degree path. “I first learned that The RE Store was a program of RE Sources and was immediately interested because it related to earth studies. I knew nothing about the RE Store and thought it would be really interesting to learn about reuse and recycling building materials,” says Marcus

Alpenglow in the Cascades by Riley Marcus

Last fall Riley joined The RE Store team as a work study student and began his reuse industry education. Since that time, he’s become well versed in recycling and reuse options for a wide variety of every day materials, learned how to identify reusable materials like doors, lumber, and windows, and become an expert in do-it-yourself know-how. Riley has also grown into a valued member of our RE Store community. “Working with Riley has been a great experience. He always shows up with such a positive, ready-to-work attitude that I often forget he has already spent several hours attending classes at WCC in the mornings. Whether hauling in donated items, loading materials out for customers, or simply chatting about the music of the late ‘90s; Riley has been an awesome co-worker and a valued member of our team,” says D from The RE Store.

While his time at The RE Store has been full of many firsts, it’s nothing compared to what he’s done outside of the store. Last summer, while visiting Bozeman, MT, Riley went on a short hike to a mountain overlook. Despite having grown up in Washington, this was his first experience of high country hiking. “We got to the viewpoint and I thought to myself ‘I want to see views like this all the time’,” says Marcus. At that point he joined a local student organized hiking club and began exploring the outdoors world. Since October he’s experienced his first 48-mile hike, gone on his first overnight backpacking trip, learned how to snowboard, and scaled Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Glacier Peak. “All of the experiences from the past few months have influenced what I want to do with my life. I hope to transfer to a college in Montana and switch my degree to avalanche studies,” says Marcus.

Morning light in the Cascades by Riley Marcus

But what does the reuse industry and time spent in the outdoors have in common? “The RE Store is really important because it promotes sustainable usage of building materials, keeps valuable materials out of the landfill, and inspires creative uses of materials. If we want the Pacific Northwest to stay this beautiful, we have to take care of it, and that involves being smart about what we buy and throw away,” says Marcus.

With summer fast approaching, Riley will be leaving The RE Store in search of new adventures. “My summer consists of hiking in Yosemite National Park, Aspen, the Pasayten Wilderness of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, and summiting South Sister Summit near Bend, OR for the August solar eclipse,” says Marcus, “But I’m already looking forward to coming back to The RE Store.”