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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Texas, USA

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Texas, USA
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jsmith43



Registered: December 2012
City/Town/Province: Little Elm
Posts: 1
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Date: 2007. Location: Kauai, Hawaii. Mission: Catch big game fish. It was my first time deep-sea fishing, and I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The waters were choppy, with frequent six-foot swells. Even those with the hardiest stomachs were a bit green in the face. It was a two-hour voyage without much activity. Finally, as we were headed back to dock, my reel began spinning so fast that it sounded like screaming. Could this be the catch I was waiting for? I reeled and reeled for over an hour, trying to catch a glimpse of what was at the end of the line. At 12 years old and 115 pounds, I sensed I was up against something close to my own body weight. After several unsuccessful attempts to bring the fish into the boat, finally…success! I had just caught a 113-pound yellow fin tuna. I was amazed. I had seen many big fish on television before, but none in person. It made me wonder what else could be down there.
Seventy percent of the Earth is covered in water, yet we know more about our distant moon than we do about our neighboring oceans. Ninety percent of the earth’s population lives within one hundred miles of a large body of water. All of this water enables us to have trade, food, and sustainable life. We have to learn more about ocean life and protect these waters—as well as the countless species that reside beneath the surface. This year, I decided to do an Apprentice Ecologist Project because I believe that our world is precious and we need to keep it that way.
For my service project, “Clean Green,” I encouraged my friends to get involved with helping the environment as a group. The project consisted of five main components: sharing messages about conservation, advocating for the protection of our oceans, rebuilding part of a tropical ecosystem, supporting the care and development of animals, and participating in the largest lake clean-up event in Texas. Through this project, I wanted my friends to realize that helping the environment didn’t have to be taxing—it could be relaxing, easy, and fun. This is something they could get excited about and, at the same time, realize that a small group of dedicated people could make an impact on the environment.
To get started, we first sent e-cards from The Nature Conservancy website to our family members and friends in order to spread awareness about the importance of conservation and the animals and habitats that can be protected as a result. By sharing information with others, we helped them understand how important these issues are to our world. Each recipient also had the opportunity to pass this information on to his or her family members and friends—which had a snowball effect. Hopefully, by sending out these e-cards, people will start to care more about the planet they call home.
In addition to sharing the conservation message with our friends and family members, it was important for our leaders to understand these issues, as well. The United States of America is the only industrialized country that doesn’t comply with the Law of the Sea Treaty. This Treaty covers the protection of our oceans from a global mindset. It calls for certain regulations that prohibit governments from tampering with or destroying our waters. Through the World Wildlife Fund organization’s website, we submitted a letter urging our government to comply with this crucial Treaty.
Messages about conversation are helpful, but only if they lead to action. The Atlantic Forest in Brazil is in danger of environmental collapse. In the process of developing the area for human expansion, this tropical forest was on the brink of total devastation. Without trees in this region, a number of local endangered species could become extinct. Plant a Billion Trees, an initiative of The Nature Conservancy, is an effort to literally bring life back to this area. For every dollar donated, a tree is planted. By contributing to this funding, our group made it possible to plant 10 more trees toward their ultimate goal of planting one billion trees by 2015. By planting these trees, we are providing native species with new housing and a place where they can reproduce and thrive.
We don’t just have to look abroad to find animals in need of our assistance. In addition to being a tourist attraction, the local Fort Worth Zoo is home to almost 7,000 exotic animals. Each of these animals is unique in that they have certain food and care needs. Of course, the food, supplies, and care for these animals do not come free. It costs the zoo over one million dollars a year—just for food alone. That is why the Fort Worth Zoo turns to the public for assistance. Through my group’s fundraising efforts, we were able to “adopt” two animals at the local zoo: a saltwater crocodile and baby giraffe. As a result of our donation, among donations from the general public, the zoo will be able to ensure that the animals are as comfortable and healthy as possible.
Whether living in a man-made habitat in the zoo or in a natural environment in the wild, animals can only thrive if their surroundings are safe and clean. The last component of my project was a trip to Lake Travis in Austin, Texas—the location of the largest lake clean-up in our state. On the surface, the lake is beautiful—with glistening waters, jagged cliffs, a landscape of trees, and enough lavish boats to fill many marinas. Lake Travis is quite the destination for party-goers, but once the party is over, there are a lot of clean-up “no-show-ers.” All of the trash and debris is just casually tossed into the water and along its shores. Of course, a lot of the trash tossed onto the shores will also eventually make its way into the lake. This pollutes not only the soil for our plants, but the water containing local marine life. During the Lake Travis Clean-Up event, my friends picked up trash along the banks on the surface while I used my scuba diving skills to clean up the bottom of the lake. We removed debris including beer cans, glass bottles, sunglasses, watches, wallets, anchors, and other items that don’t belong in our waters. By taking part in this event, we made it possible for people and marine life to continue enjoying the lake for many years to come.
It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our environment and the animals that live here. If we each do our own part, we will have a home planet that we can be proud of. This project hasn’t just helped the public and the environment–it also helped me see that I can make a difference by just doing the things I love. I want to continue scuba diving, complete additional PADI certifications, and obtain my Master Scuba Diver recognition by this summer. Beginning Fall 2013, I will be studying Marine Biology at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. After my undergraduate studies, I hope to get an advanced degree and accomplish my dream of becoming a Marine Biologist. Ultimately, I believe I can help us understand our oceans better. Perhaps I’ll even get the chance to discover the mysteries we have yet to uncover about our seas.
· Date: December 9, 2012 · Views: 3042 · File size: 12.2kb, 576.4kb · : 2016 x 1328 ·
Hours Volunteered: 250
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 17 to 44
Native Trees Planted: 10
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