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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Hart Park, Bakersfield, California, USA

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Hart Park, Bakersfield, California, USA
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Registered: December 2014
City/Town/Province: Bakersfield
Posts: 1
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My name is Natalie. I live and have grown up in Bakersfield, California, and am a proud junior student of Bakersfield High School. I am best known for my willingness to involve myself within school and my community, my openness to experience new things, and most notably, my courage to take and lead others into action when I believe there is a call for change. My teachers, counselors, club advisors, and volunteer supervisors know me as a student who shows passion, commitment, strength, courage, and determination in my work. Since the beginning of my high school experience, I have been both a member and leader of numerous school and community projects dedicated to improving the well-being of my community. In the past year, I have been a leader of our school political club - devoted to educating and encouraging students to become involved with the politics of our country and community, a leader of Safe School Ambassadors – committed to supporting, protecting, and educating students from student bullies, and a leader of the non-profit organization Children First -dedicated to improving the lives of children within our community by giving the opportunity to experience the wildlife and recourses of Bakersfield. I am an award-winning member of our school Speech and Debate team and a member of our school Link Crew program – a program dedicated to mentoring and guiding high school freshmen on their journey through their first year of high school. Most importantly, in all I dedicate myself to, I focus on guiding, assisting, and empowering others. I believe that through education, hope, and action, any change can ensue- including the improved change of the environmental state of our planet.
I chose to do an Apprentice Ecologist Project due to the fact that the Nicodemus Wilderness Project reflects the values that I myself hold, and use, to empower myself and others to take action – and to protect and restore the nature of our planet. In my development as a leader, I have learned that, to lead, one must inspire, educate, and guide others into self-empowerment. And, pleasantly, in my research of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project I found my own values were reflected in the actions and beliefs your organization performed and held – teaching young, diverse groups of persons to explore nature, to develop an awareness of the planet’s need for environmental restoration, and to be inspired to take action towards achieving it.
Hart Memorial Park is the wilderness and outdoor core of Kern County. Hart Park is both a core and influential piece of my history, beginning with my parents. In the year of 1993, both of my parents, happily and newly married, made their move from the busy city of LA to the city of Bakersfield. My parents remember Hart Park serving as the “wow factor” of Bakersfield - grand, welcoming, family-oriented, and simply beautiful in its nature.
Hart Park lies on the outskirts of Bakersfield, directly on the outlook of Bakersfield’s beautiful bluffs. Along the edge of the park flows our mighty Kern River, the largest and most famous river of my home, the Kern Valley. Hart Park is complete with bike trails, hiking trails, a shooting range, and playgrounds, landmarks that tell the history of Bakersfield, and calm lakes and streams open to fishing, swimming, kayaking, and boating. Finally, and perhaps the most compelling and most notable characteristic of our park, is our Peacock Reservation – open to the public and abundant with peacocks, ready to jog alongside the bike trail at a moment’s notice.
My park has never ceased to be grand, and has never ceased to be admired – by myself, and others. I’ve grown up here - admired the sapphire blue of peacock’s feathers, giggled while blue gills nipped at my toes, blown dandelion seeds through the wind and watched them float off towards the hills. And now that I’m older, I’m noticing other things. The beauty of my park is deteriorating – or maybe it always has been. Maybe, as a child, I didn’t notice the discarded wrappers and foreign articles within the grass. Maybe, as a child, I didn’t notice the graffiti over the stones by the river. And maybe, as a child, I didn’t notice the oil that collects along the bank of the lake.
However, change begins with awareness and is completed with action. I have taken awareness to the misuse of my park, to its abuse, to its neglect – and I have taken action.
And so, I thank my park for all it has provided me, my family, my community, and most importantly, what it has provided its wildlife – a home and a place to thrive. It has done what it can – and I have seen that now was time that my community take responsibility and take action to restore and protect our park, Hart Memorial Park.
I noticed that the most neglected feature of our park was its lake. Our lake is small enough to walk around its circumference within a matter of about 20 minutes. It is calm, peaceful, and is home to geese, ducks, frogs, fish, water reeds, and much more of the wildlife that make up our park. It is a popular spot for fisherman, swimmers, and the many children and families who take the opportunity to spend time around the lake.
But what I had noticed was that, despite the efforts of some to tidy up the park, the inner edges of the lake remained contaminated. Bottles, bags, glass, and wrappers lay obvious and gleaming all around its edge, far enough inside the lake and away from the shore that they proved inaccessible due to distance, depth of the lake, and vegetation. I then realized most persons, or cleaning crew, couldn’t have the means to be able to access this specific collection of waste, therefore causing it continue to collect and contaminate our lake and our environment. I saw the opportunity to address the issue in an enjoyable, unique, and opportunistic way: with kayaks.
My family owns four kayaks and, besides using them for enjoyment, I saw that we could use them to tackle this environmental issue. I also knew that, by inviting my peers, it would open them to the unique experience of kayaking, give them the opportunity to explore the natural environment, cause them to be aware of the environmental pollution of our lake, and finally, teach them that tackling environmental pollution did not always require large funds or experience, but some supplies, a bit of time, and a few dedicated and passionate individuals. Most importantly, this experience was meant to plant the seed of environmental awareness and activism within my peers; to bring them to the realization that we all have a responsibility to maintain and improve our environment.
The event began at early morning, on a sunny Saturday in September. I invited my peers to be a part of our environmental clean-up project, advertising the experience of kayaking, the outdoors, and the opportunity to improve the environmental conditions of our community, and planet. My peers were intrigued, admirable of the idea, and excited to be part of such an event. For the project, my family provided a row boat, three kayaks, life jackets, and snacks. My peers were encouraged to contribute by bringing cleaning materials such as gloves and trash bags. For the process of collecting the waste, we were able to craft “hooking” devices using old broom sticks and nails - in order to better reach waste behind the vegetation. We collected waste and recyclables in the back compartments of our kayaks, after we had gathered it from the edges of the lake. After about four hours, we had collected enough damp, rotting waste to fill buckets, bags, and a large portion of our boat. Finally, the waste was properly disposed of, and we sat to relax, prideful at our contribution to our community.
My experience with my family and my peers – all of us working together to improve our local environment and our planet, proved inspiring and enriching not only for myself, but for my peers as well. During the event, they showed enthusiasm, confidence, and leadership. They were happy to be a part of a unique experience and proud that, all the while, they were bettering their environment. I saw that they felt empowered to do more and be more, and not only did I receive requests to plan such a project again, but several of my peers decided that they wanted to expand the project – to make it a district wide event and to invite more young people into the experience. One of my peers even documented our project and posted it on his YouTube channel, proud of our accomplishments. I then realized, to my thrill, that this project didn’t just result in change for that moment, or that day. It would continue to influence environmental change and improvement because my peers left with confidence, inspiration, and motivation – a willingness to set an example for others, and protect and restore our planet’s environment. I know this message of empowerment will result in young leaders that will continue to inspire and be inspired – and to restore the planet’s environmental state and beauty, for good.
I thank the Nicodemus Wilderness Project for the encouragement of the young community to become greater in our activism, confidence, and actions that we take to improve our planet. The experience has proved educational, benefiting, inspiring, and greatest of all, empowering to me, my family, and my community. It has reinforced my sense of responsibility to protect and re-build my community’s and my planet’s wildlife and environment. I plan to continue to not only move forward with this project and its expansion, but to continue to reflect a person whom continues to contribute and improve my planet’s environment.
· Date: December 31, 2014 · Views: 2149 · File size: 23.1kb, 142.4kb · : 960 x 720 ·
Hours Volunteered: 24
Volunteers: 6
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 13 to 50
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