Like many recession-era college graduates, Ashley Merscher returned to her small hometown after living a larger life in places like Seattle, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Galway, Ireland.
But her return in November 2010 was not a begrudging comeback to a city with little opportunity for people her age, and in fact few people her age, period. Merscher, 26, said her return is an opportunity to give back to the community that raised her.
“When you leave (your hometown), you take on new experiences but little things draw you back,” she said.
Growing up in Sequim, Merscher always was interested in preserving the natural resources of the area, she said. She went camping often and was active in the Pure Country 4-H Club raising cattle.
After studying political science, international affairs and environmental science, completing an internship with a Seattle-based farm nonprofit and making trips to work on farms in Ireland after studying at the National University of Ireland, Merscher set her sights on getting involved in similar efforts in Sequim.
In March, Merscher was elected as the youngest member of the Clallam Conservation District Board of Supervisors and the youngest supervisor in the state.
The conservation district is a resource almost anyone can utilize whether they are farmers or just have a few vegetables growing in their yard, Merscher said.
One of her goals as a board member is to educate people on what the district does and get local students involved in projects.
Merscher also works for Linda Barnfather’s campaign for county commissioner and at The Oak Table Cafe. She plans to stay in the area through her three-year term. Past that? “When you’re young, if an opportunity comes, you need to take it,” she said.