Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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Nicodemus Wilderness Project


NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Mountain Grove, Missouri, USA

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Mountain Grove, Missouri, USA
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Registered: December 2014
City/Town/Province: brooklyn
Posts: 1
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My name is Amos and I am twenty-one years old. During the last year or so I have had trouble deciding in which direction my life is going to go. I was in college and felt like I wasn’t really making an impact in anyone’s life, nor would my education necessarily improve the conditions of the world. This led me to, what to some might seem, a rash move; I dropped out. At first I thought maybe I would try to go to vocational school, but again, there seemed to be no real positive outcome in that direction either. Then I decided to try something different. I got the idea to devote several months of my life to helping others by way of volunteer work. The idea for my Apprentice Ecologist Environmental Stewardship Project came to me after long thought about what matters most to me in life and that is protecting the environment. For a long time I have been subscribed to and have received their email newsletters this has opened my eyes to a world I was not always aware of. They have informed me about environmental dangers and catastrophes worldwide. Events such as Fukushima and the big oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico really hit home and I realized there has to be something that each individual can do in order to protect our environment. I wanted to do something meaningful that dealt with people who were already active in environmental pursuits. The idea was, I can not only to be contributing to the effort to protect the environment but also, to be able to learn and pick up information and guidelines as to how to go forward from where I am.
My environmental stewardship project began to take shape in my head. Since my mother and father are divorced I have seen first hand what a single woman has to do in order to survive and since I am particularly interested in sustainability, I decided I would focus on volunteering at sustainable farms that were run by single women. I figured that the hardships faced by a single woman trying to fight the fight for environmental protection would be doubly difficult and therefore I should focus my energies on this particular faction.
I worked at three separate farms in the months of July, August, September and part of October basically doing whatever work the farm owners needed done. I was located in the Ozarks region of Missouri which is one of the most interesting and ecologically diverse places I have ever been to. I chose this area because of its ecological diversity and the small population of people in the area who still have a do-it-yourself attitude from whom I had hoped I could gain a little wisdom. Despite its beauty, diversity and historical culture some of the locals seem to be unaware of the need to conserve and the idea of environmental stewardship; unaware of the strain they put on their local environment. Many of the locals do not have a proper way of disposing of their trash so they either bury it on their property or burn it.
During my volunteer period, I worked at one farm in particular that really stood out. It is called L’isola farm and it is run by a thirty year old single woman who is an environmentalist and sustainability activist. Her practices are predicated on the idea that a shift from city life to the woods was essential to further her activism. Part of her project is to grow all of her own food and build her own cabin to live in so that she could tread lighter on this planet and also serve as a guide for others who are interested in proactive environmentalism. She was building a cabin that would serve as a prototype for other such dwellings to be built and she will be conducting seminars to the locals in order to get them to understand their place in the ecological grand scheme of things. I devoted a large part of my time helping her work on the cabin, which, when I arrived was three-quarters of the way done.
The cabin was a natural construction made from a material called cob which is made from mixing sand, straw and clay together, forming it into loaves that are then stacked and worked together to create a strong monolithic structure. When I first saw her website, I was immediately attracted to the fact that there would be this type of natural building going on. I felt strongly compelled to help out because, not only was this a person who was working pretty much on her own to build a cabin, but it was using environmental/sustainable methods. By building with natural materials that come from the land and other localities, the environmental impact that is usually made with conventional structures is reduced by probably ninety-percent. The clay, which served as the glue for the sand and straw, was dug from the land. The sand was shipped from a local river source and the straw was acquired from local farmers. The majority of the materials traveled no more than 20 miles away. The Foundation was made from stones from the property and the wood that was used for the roof and framing were salvaged from dumpsters close by in Springfield.
As I mentioned earlier, when I arrived the cabin was almost complete. I was able to work on putting up the last layers of the wall, affixing the roof material to the frame, plastering the walls with natural plaster, insulating the roof with natural materials and salvage materials and fixing up any spots that needed extra TLC. Many mornings I would wake up before the owner of the farm and go dig up the clay needed for that day and shovel and transport the necessary number of sand buckets to the work site. During the time we spent mixing the materials for the walls the owner would explain a lot of details about why we were building with these materials as well as talk about how modern industrial building methods are so hazardous to the environment. It made me feel as though I was part of something worthwhile and something that would inspire me in the future to live a green lifestyle and help others do the same.
I also worked for an herbalist who is focused on teaching people in the local area about the native flora that can be used for medicine, healing and health. Her work is focused on repopulating the area with beneficial plants that are both native to the area and are vital for the wildlife in the area as well. Many of the places that you will see in the area are cattle farms. These farms destroy the native plant diversity by growing one or two main crops instead, these are usually non-local and invasive grasses. This woman is a great asset to the community. She gives lectures and weed walks and sells her products at local markets, and insists that she runs her booth instead of expanding and hiring others to sell her products. She does this because she believes that it is important to also teach her customers about the benefits of these products as well as advise them based on their particular indications. While I was there I helped her harvest several different wild plants that she uses in her medicines and herbal products.
The third place I worked at was a farm run by a single mother of four. She grows eighty percent of all the food she eats and she also grows enough food to offer work for food trades. She is a proponent of pesticide free farming and is also active in the community as she is a Gulf War veteran and her merits have earned her a positive position in the community so that she can discuss the importance of chemical free living. She takes care of well over fifty animals including goats, chickens, a pig, horses, dogs and cats. Most of the work I did at this farm was harvesting, weeding and preparing plant beds. On several occasions, the owner would tell me that the work that I did for her saved her several hours of work that she herself would have to do each day.
My Apprentice Ecologist project has enriched my life in so many ways. It gave me a first hand look at how environmentalism can be incorporated in one’s daily life and it gave me the skills I would need to move forward and make environmentalism part of my life long endeavor. I was lost, and didn’t know what to do with my life; it seemed that no matter what I looked at, there was a sense of purposelessness and emptiness. This project helped me see that I can pursue a life of environmentalism and make a career out of sustainability as these women have done. It seems as though by helping others I have also helped myself in the greatest sense by finding meaning and direction in my own life.
Date: December 4, 2014 Views: 4889 File size: 18.4kb, 3334.0kb : 3008 x 2000
Hours Volunteered: 400
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 20
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