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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Columbia, South Carolina, USA

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Columbia, South Carolina, USA
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jpatel1394



Registered: July 2014
City/Town/Province: Florence
Posts: 1
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One sunny summer day, at the age of fourteen, I vividly remember hearing a small, yet shrill squeak. Determined to find the source of this horrid sound I searched and I searched my front yard where I was playing soccer with my dad. The noise seemed to get louder and louder with each squeak, yet I could not seem to find what was causing it. The moment I bowed my head in failure of not locating the sound, I looked down to find a squirming baby woodpecker entangled in what appeared to be a clear plastic strip of a discarded wrapper at the trunk of our majestic Bald Cypress. I called for my dad and together we carefully tended to the bird in pain by removing the wrapper and nursing it until we felt it was ready to be released back into its natural habitat. Though this day may seem as common as any kid coming to the rescue of any animal in their front yard, it became somewhat of an epiphany for me. It was as if a whole new world was brought to me at the palm of my hands. I mean, I was already a vegan, so technically I couldn’t possibly be harming animals, right? Wrong. This perspective changed that very moment; being a vegan did not excuse me from using harmful plastics, not educating myself in perilous substances that could very well harm not only the animals but the environment and even humans, indirectly at least.
From that day forward, I lessened my use of plastic greatly and recycled what little plastic I did use in addition to paper, glass, and basically anything that could be reused. I took advantage of the “internet era” and was always caught on the computer researching ways to become more efficient in using green energy, preventing pollution, and persuading others, especially those younger than myself, to follow this lifestyle. Not everyone was fully supportive or involved in my new found way of living and by that I mean my beloved family. I still recall my dad telling me numerous times that it was impossible for me as one individual girl to stop global warming or change the world. As amazing as my dad is, this was just always going to be a reoccurring argument. Maybe I was just very driven to change this century’s stance on trashing the very planet on which we call home, but regardless of the odds, it was never going to be a topic I could easily forfeit. As Robert Swan once said, “The greatest threat to our planet is believing that someone else will save it.” This moved mountains for me. When I entered high school I ran for President of the Science National Honor Society and won with the idea of beginning a recycling system at my high school. It started as a single small project and grew to various projects around my small southern hometown. I even convinced my family to recycle! The feeling of accomplishing even this much, as little as it may seem, was a feeling I can never put into words. I strongly believe that any small act, if well executed, can benefit the environment, if not influence others and consequently create a domino effect. After all, it only takes is one small spark to start a fire.
Upon entering college, I further invested time in organizations and volunteering opportunities that would continue my calling of making the world a better place to live. However, I wanted to do more than just tell people to recycle. I wanted to see change. I sat and brainstormed different ways I could get myself and others involved. Going far distances or even international would be a dream come true but starting with your own town was a good way to get the youth, friends, co-students, and everyone in the community involved. So I decided to get a group together and clean the streets. This seemed like a fairly simple task, yet one that the town I lived in desperately needed. Instead of trying to find an extremely creative way of getting people involved as I had originally planned to do, I chose to start off by asking those I knew if they would be interested in joining me for the greater good. I honestly believe that this project, as elementary as it was, could truly change the society I lived in. This is so important because if our streets aren’t clean, if our neighborhoods aren’t clean, if our homes aren’t clean, then it sets precedent for the younger generations to believe that this way of living is acceptable. This misconception of not being able to change the environment, or change the views of others to become friends of our planet because “there is only so much you can do” is something I strive to remove from the future generations to come. Through the help of assistants from the MLK service day organization, my group and I were allowed to visit the site of many dirty streets and even the houses of the elderly. We set out that day geared up with thick gloves, trash bags twice the size of us, and a strong mindset to meet our goal. Though the main project lasted a day at this particular site in Columbia, SC, we worked all day and managed to clean up so much unwanted garbage. I’d say it was the most I have ever seen cleaned in my volunteering experience. We continued the project on other days, but this location in particular was one for the books.
Needless to say, the project was a huge success and I would be honored to continue doing it for as long as possible. Seeing the smile on the face of one of the elderly woman was more than reassuring that this project had impacted if not everyone but at least one person’s life. I left the site that day with so much satisfaction and faith that any individual no matter the race, age, or his/her current situation in life can make a difference; all it takes is a little sweat and a lot of persistence and determination. Not only did it inspire me to continue pushing myself to be a good influence, but it also motivated and encouraged me and my group to always have a positive influence on anything and anyone no matter what we were pursuing in life.
· Date: July 10, 2014 · Views: 2299 · File size: 27.2kb, 179.3kb · : 718 x 708 ·
Hours Volunteered: 150
Volunteers: 15
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15-22
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