Registered: December 2016
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Ever since I was young, I have always dreamed of helping the world commit to a more sustainable lifestyle. My parents exposed me to the outdoors and nature's greatest wonders early in my life, which had a monumental impact on my interests and dreams. From then on, I became fixated on protecting the environment. It was dear to me, and I wanted to preserve it so that future generations could enjoy similar experiences. I have been involved in several environmentally concerned groups throughout my life, such as school conservation groups, research affiliations, and NWF. I have also photographed nature's paintings to bring the outdoors to others and to invigorate their ambition to connect with nature. I have used these photographs in my writings that I contributed to The Outbound Collective, a website dedicated to bring people to the outdoors.
I have combined my speaking skills, photography skills, and knowledge of the environment together to create change around several Canadian lakes. I conducted my multi-faceted project in the Rideau Lakes region of southeastern Ontario, Canada, where access to local natural lakes aided my research. I specifically worked on Adam Lake, near the town of Perth, and focused on evaluating and helping to maintain the health of this lake.
The past two summers, I collected data on Adam Lake using aquatic vegetation mapping techniques and water quality testing technology to contribute to research being performed by a local university and conservation authority. I mapped the aquatic vegetation of lakes with a modified fish finder in collaboration with a professor at Carleton University for ongoing research collection. We used this data to analyze trends in the amount of aquatic vegetation throughout the seasons. I also performed water quality testing with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority to examine aspects such as water conductivity, oxygen levels, and microorganisms to determine the health of the lake. Also, my family and I are involved in the Adam Lake Stewardship Committee for the Adam Lake Association, where we address environmental issues of the lake.
Using the information and experience that I obtained with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority, Carleton University, and the Adam Lake Stewardship Committee, I created a presentation about the health of regional lakes in Ontario, Canada, to exhibit to the Adam Lake Property Owner's Association. In that presentation, I explained why Adam Lake was labeled as poor in water quality by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority data collection. I briefed the association on the current extensive aquatic vegetation growth due to excess nutrients like phosphates that were leaching into the lake. Because of the excessive growth, there were low oxygen levels and therefore an increase in death of animal life that created the perfect scenario for eutrophication. I furthermore explained to them that the lack of vegetation buffers contributed to the amount of phosphates running off into the lake as well as fertilizer use and household cleaning products that contain phosphates. To counter these situations, I presented solutions to prevent the runoff of excessive phosphates into the water. I explained how to create a natural shoreline, how to incorporate plant species in that natural buffer, and to eliminate use of fertilizers and phosphate household cleaners since they leak out of the septic system and ultimately into the lake. Ultimately, I educated the association on how to improve and preserve the quality of the lake. Through my involvement in these organizations, I influenced the association's mindset to make a difference in the environment.
By influencing many people's thoughts about the lake environment, I created a new positive outlook on the ecosystem as a whole from their perspective. My presentation was made even more compelling by my age. I was a teenager speaking in the midst of people over 55. The association was intrigued to have such a young person so passionate and concerned about the lake health. This helped to coerce them to take action and improve the lake environment they lived in. By reducing the amount of phosphates and runoff into the lake, there would be less extensive aquatic vegetation, and therefore more dissolved oxygen. Eutrophication would slow down and the lake would not become a swamp for several generations. It's up to all of us to protect our lake now, and for future generations.
The Apprentice Ecologist Project has narrowed my interests into a passion that I will pursue as a career. My life-long interest in nature and experience in helping to preserve the health of Adam Lake through research and communication with the community, has led me to pursue college studies that will combine engineering, sustainability, business, and environmental policy and formulate a career that will help me solve global environmental issues. I was thrilled to educate people about the lake environment and seek to expand my reach in making a difference in preserving the environment on a grand scale.