Registered: January 2017
City/Town/Province: Scotts Valley
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As I feel the crisp air and warm sun on my back, I know I am home. My eyes drink in the massive redwoods, towering hundreds of feet above me, and I think, Nature is timeless. When I am among Nature, I am one with her. I feel connected to her life around me: birds preening, grass and flowers swaying in the wind, and trees shading spots on the trail. She reminds me how brief and precious life is.
The relationship amongst the organisms inspires awe in me. Moss growing on the trees, bugs camouflaged on leaves, and birds making their homes on branches fascinates me. The environment sustains itself; nature’s perfection amazes me.
As a child, I enjoyed trips to Yosemite or Lake Tahoe more than trips to Disneyland. Growing up, my love of nature persisted, and I found sanctuary in places like Henry Cowell State Park, the rolling hills of UCSC, and beach havens in Davenport. This lifelong connection translated to a passion for conserving the environment.
This year, I successfully pitched my plan to beautify the campus with California native plants. With the support of my principal, the Global Student Embassy Club and our school’s environmental science teacher, my project took root. I began to plan by first assessing the parts of campus that needed planting. I chose two large concrete planter boxes located in the middle of campus that were overgrown with weeds and grasses. Once I knew what my goal was, I started a Falcon Green Team, my school’s first environmental club. Many kids signed up and at our first meeting I explained to them what our goal was. They were all eager to help.
With my club on board, I assessed the area and the soil. Once I had sufficient data, I began contacting local nurseries for plant donations and created an online donation page to share with friends and family. In addition the the money donated, I coordinated with my school’s haunted house to do a week long fundraiser where we sold tea, snacks, and t-shirt supporting Falcon Green Team. We finally had enough money to fund our project. To my surprise a native plant nursery twenty minutes from our school agreed to donate the plants to our project.
We wanted plants that would require little care and would benefit the environment. We chose native plants that were drought resistant and would provide an environment that would attract endangered species of bees and butterflies. With students ready to plant, nurseries ready to donate we had our first day of work, where student earned community service. When I saw how many weed we had dug up, I knew it was time to start something I had always hoped my school would have: a compost pile. We made a signs and set up the barriers for the compost pile and assembled it the next weekend. It was already filling up with scraps and weeds from the planters. After that, every Saturday the members of Falcon Green Team and I weeded, dug, sifted, and planted.
Finally, it was time to put the finishing touches on the planters. Once all of the plants were in the new soil, we covered them in mulch and connected and irrigation system from the nearby gutter and downspout. We labeled the plants and included their benefit to the environment; some plants attract butterflies and some smelled delicious.
We used little of the funds that were donated, leaving enough to transform a new area of campus and support the club in future years. As a senior, it was comforting to hear members of Falcon Green Team Assure me that they would continue the club in coming years. The planters were a small start to a large goal of mine: educating and inspiring others.
Education is one of the most important aspects of protecting nature. We need to show people exactly where their trash goes and what happens to it. We need to educate people so they realize how much we rely upon nature. Environmental consciousness and conservation ought to be a part of required public education. Everyone should be privy to this knowledge, not just a select few who have a passion for saving the planet before it is too late.