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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Yakima, Washington, USA

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Yakima, Washington, USA
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Registered: August 2016
City/Town/Province: Yakima
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For as long as I can remember, I have had a huge interest in and passion for nature. As a little girl, I was on the constant lookout for rocks, fossils, feathers, animal sign, pinecones, etc. My mom's window sills were and are still full of my collections. Anytime, I could get my hands on non-fiction or watch science shows, I absorbed as much as I could. Over the last several years, I have been honing my nature photography skills winning several awards and starting my own business. I know my purpose on this Earth is to steward God's precious creations and inspire others to find the same joy and wonder that I see all around me.
I believe my generation will play and has to play a crucial role in the Earth's care. This can only come through education, and the encouragement by scientists/conservationists like myself to help others understand the need to lift their eyes up from their daily lives (i.e. electronics) and see the dire need of our environment. Not just see the need, but then also take action. To take leadership, as no other generation, in order to restore what has been damaged. For as our Earth thrives, so will its people.
Much of the original habitat in my area of the Columbia Shrub Steppe is very degraded, which has drawn me to start an Apprentice Ecologist Project. I live in Yakima, Washington located in Central Washington. The climate here is dry and arid during most of the year while the Yakima River provides some extra water that supports an aspen/pine/oak forest. The foothills of the Cascades and Yakima River Valley shape the terrain of this biome which are covered in many types of brush, grasses, and wildflowers that feed off of the extremely fertile soil. Unfortunately, many years of poor farming practices and invasive plants have greatly affected the area.
I wanted to help slow down the degradation by starting a garden of my own in my yard that would be filled with native and drought resistant plants. I researched to find some plants that would be perfect for this. Some of those plants were already growing in my yard which I transplanted. Others, I had to buy and plant. These plants included Dwarf White Pine, Creeping Bellflower, Common Yarrow, Blue Fescue, several species of penstemon, lilies, and stonecrops. To reduce the amount of water I was using, I used a drip hose only as needed and allowed rain and snowfall to take care of the rest. Many of the plants grew wonderfully, but some of the plants that tend to sink their root deep into the ground did better it they were started from seed. When my plants had flowered I noticed many species of insects I had never seen before were attracted to them, which included several types of native bees!
It is extremely important that the Columbia Shrub Steppe is taken care of because it is so understudied compared to many other biomes. Even though it is degraded, protecting this biome always seems to be an afterthought. My project will help the environment by reducing the amount of water used in my yard, the flowers of these plants will attract native insects, and help maintain a high biodiversity. The project will help the community by showing that the Columbia Shrub Steppe is not some wasteland filled with prickly grasses and tumbleweeds. It is home to a large variety of flora which are quite beautiful and colorful.
This project has enriched my life in several ways. The project has inspired me to learn more about the native flora of the area which could help restore the environment. In addition, this project has empowered me to continue teaching others about our native flora and xeriscaping. I have volunteered at a local nature day camp for the last several years. Now, I can pass along my newfound knowledge to the children who attend. Lastly, I am inspired to educate and encourage more people, not just children, to plant native plants and to help break the stereotype in my area that native plants are just a bunch of ugly, noxious weeds. Our beautiful native plants are so much more!
Date: December 29, 2017 Views: 2323 File size: 13.7kb, 2137.0kb : 3456 x 5184
Hours Volunteered: 10
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 & 47
Native Trees Planted: 1
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