Not everyone knows what they want to do early in life. After years of hard work, you may discover passions and goals you never dreamed of. Sarah Ling could easily have pulled away from her passions and stuck with what she knew, but instead she gave them her all, and she’s really inspiring for that.
Ling has lived in Chesterton all her life. She attended Chesterton High School and after graduating earned her associate’s degree in applied sciences from Ivy Tech Community College. Without thinking, she became a phlebotomist.
However, after 10 years in the medical field, Ling felt something was missing. She loved her colleagues and enjoyed working with the community, but she wanted to try something new.
“I just burned out in the medical field. I’ve always hiked and wanted to be in the environment as much as possible and I’ve always enjoyed being proactive in helping and doing things like picking up rubbish and doing what I can. Over the years, my passion for the environment and conservation grew,” said Ling.
After Ling realized she needed to change something, she did some research and decided that going back to school was for the best. Of course it wasn’t easy – she worked two jobs for a while and went to school full-time, but it was all worth it in the end. She received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the American Public University and is now the Air Compliance Environmental Manager in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
Ling couldn’t be happier about her decision to change careers. She knows how intimidating it can be to try something new, but she encourages everyone to pursue their dreams.
“Do it. Don’t hesitate. If you feel like you should do something, then by all means do it. I know it sounds very cliche because everyone says it, but it’s definitely true. The career change was my best decision,” Ling said.
Not only has Ling found her dream job, but she also works part-time at Duneland Distillery. She fell in love with Duneland Distillery and Vern Brown, the owner, after her parents became investors. Seeing Brown’s passion for brewing spirits and supporting the community, she couldn’t help but want to work there. Ling currently leads the tastings, and she loves the way her job allows her to make an impact in the community and watch people connect.
“I love giving people an experience and a good time and a good laugh while doing the tasting. Giving people the opportunity to experience a locally distilled place is great. It’s really cool to see how many people from the city we get here at the distillery. It’s nice to just interact with people; It’s almost like networking without actually connecting, you just get to know people and listen to their stories and their stories,” Ling said.
If she could motivate anyone to do anything, Ling would encourage everyone not to take Northwest Indiana’s beautiful surroundings for granted.
“National parks like the dunes are one of the main reasons I like being here. This area has more ecosystems in one general location than most locations in the country. It’s crazy to see how they all work together and how we can go to all these different places. The dunes are actually one of the largest areas for bird migration. We have hundreds and hundreds of species coming through this area — it’s incredible,” Ling said.
There are so many people that Ling is grateful for, but she is especially grateful for her husband and his constant support for her and her goals.
“My husband pushed me to go into the environmental field. He always knew I really wanted this, so he went a long way in encouraging me to take that final step back to school. I hesitated, but he really pushed me to just do it. He was such a big supporter,” Ling said.
In her free time, you can catch Ling hiking, lying in her hammock reading a good book, or carrying around a pair of rubber gloves to pick up any junk she stumbles upon. Although she is a proud introvert, her commitment to the environment and the community she serves shows how impactful a person can be in their own way.