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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Clinch Valley, Abingdon, Virginia, USA

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Clinch Valley, Abingdon, Virginia, USA
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Registered: June 2011
City/Town/Province: Littleton
Posts: 1
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I have always been passionate about the Earth and protecting the valuable resources that it provides us with. When having to choose my major I could not think of anything more important at this time in history than working to sustain and preserve our world. I chose to major in Environmental Studies in order to gain the education that I would need to continue and develop my passion for the environment. Suffolk University seemed like the perfect choice because of their extensive Environmental Studies program. Suffolk works passionately with the students to create a greener school through its programs and numerous environmental initiatives.

Being an avid Environmentalist, I couldn't resist being intrigued when I heard about Suffolk University's Alternative Spring Break trips for 2011. Every year Suffolk students have the opportunity to take various trips around the country in order to dedicate their spring breaks to helping others. This year they offered an Environmental trip. I immediately applied and had my interview. After being accepted into the program, I was happy to learn that myself and ten other students would be traveling to Abingdon, Virginia to work with The Nature Conservancy. Abingdon is a small town 133 miles southwest of Roanoke. Outside of the bustling town center is a gorgeous landscape of rolling hills and mountains.

The work was extremely challenging both physically and mentally. Our days working with The Nature Conservancy consisted of planting oak, short-leaf pine, and black locust seedlings. We would all gather up our unusually large seedlings into tree bags and hike way up to the top of very steep ridges in the mountains. There, we would use our digging tools to dig holes deep enough for the roots, place the tree in, cover it up, mark the trees with tape, and start over. We would often be planting on such steep ridges that it was very difficult to gain balance in order to use the large tools, which proved very challenging. The Nature Conservancy chose this particular piece of land, which they have easement rights to, because they were interested in building this part of the forest back up. This work was part of an effort to preserve the unique ecosystem of the region's Clinch Valley. The Nature Conservancy's intention was to come back to this particular sight in a year and check on the development of the seedlings. While we were there my group and I planted over 4,000 trees. Out of those 4,000, not all are expected to survive to adulthood. However, if even 500 of them fully develop, that alone is a huge feat.

Due to the unfortunate and frequent practice of deforestation worldwide, I felt that this project was deeply important. It was important not only to the ecosystems that would benefit from this within the Clinch Valley, but also to the world. 4,000 trees is a small gain compared to the thousands that are pulled down every day. However, I think that every small bit of effort counts in the scope of things and that what we did in Virginia was a great accomplishment. It was also important to us as individuals. I know that for me the trip was inspiring and such a fantastic learning experience. We all left that trip with a greater sense of our impact on the world and what individual changes we needed to make in our daily lives. I think that trip planted seeds in every one of us that allowed us to see that we can make a difference in the world. It made us realize the importance of working as a team in order to accomplish something on a larger scale. I walked away from that trip wanting to create more change through my actions. I knew that I was capable of much more than I thought I was when I left for Virginia. No one is insignificant when it comes to the fight for our planet. We need to all join together in order to create visible change within our world and ourselves.
Date: June 2, 2011 Views: 3151 File size: 23.7kb, 115.4kb : 720 x 540
Hours Volunteered: 50
Volunteers: 12
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 20 & 19 to 35
Native Trees Planted: 4000
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