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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - California National Forests, California, USA

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California National Forests, California, USA


Registered: December 2018
City/Town/Province: Winter Garden
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In former President Theodore Roosevelt's own words, "We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation." I am Nicholas, a seventeen-year-old from Florida and an advocate for environmental sustainability. It pains me to see the environment in turmoil because of our own anthropogenic faults. We are all held responsible; we should all protect this world. My passion for the environment began when I met my Advanced Placement Environmental Science teacher. She was one of those, "ask not what the environment can do for you, ask what you can do for the environment" gurus. Each day in her class was spent learning about how we can work to change the environment, by cleaning up our local lakes, conservation efforts, or even through political or financial efforts. However, she left an impression on me when she said, "the most influential way to preserve the environment is through education." This mentality was what sparked my curiosity for protecting Earth over this past summer.
I have always been shy. Organizing group efforts isn't one of my strengths, for I live by the motto that one can make a difference. On behalf of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project, my idea of a successful Apprentice Ecological project is as follows. My dad and I went on a camping trip to California over this past summer, where we went to multiple national forests and preservation areas. The only way that I can describe my view of the trees is as follows: I remember looking up, my head straining to perceive the canopies of the Redwoods, of the Giant Sequoias that loomed overhead, so colossal that I could not even catch a glimpse of the Sun as it crept through the tree line. I was mesmerized. I heard of the stories of logging, in which the Redwoods were chopped down in large quantities as a source of tremendous income for the settlers as the Gold Rush proved anticlimactic. Overcome with numerous feelings of wretchedness, I ran (on a marked trail) over and hugged one of the Giant Sequoias. I will never forget that feeling.

Aside from all the excitement and thrills of the national forests, my dad and I camped out at designated locations. On one of our nightly hikes, we came across a dead whale that reeked a foul stench so horrific as to attract unwanted attention. The whale, a rare and endangered animal in itself, was so deteriorated that I could not figure out what species it came from. I saw callow kids throwing sticks at the carcass and kicking the defenseless animal (what was left of one). I told the younger children that life and death are both natural parts of this thing we call our world. For animals, like this one that you are unknowingly harassing, their deaths are crucial to the natural order of Earth's cycles. When this whale died, its soul leaves its body, but what it leaves behind acts as a seed; a fertilizer that is crucial: through carbon and nitrogen. Although it is horrific to see, it happens. We must respect our environment and our interactions with it must be benevolent. The two kids then walked away to their parents, carefully, as to respect all forms of life that they may come across.
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves caught up in our own worlds. We become so focused on new inventions, that we forget the manual labor that goes into extracting those necessary minerals, all of which are detrimental to many species through mining efforts that cause habitat destruction, soil erosion, and depletion in many areas. As a species, our rapid population growth rate exceeds the carrying capacity that our Earth offers. Resources are unevenly distributed and as space is becoming a scarcity, many forms of life are in jeopardy. We must be mindful, and altruistic instead of egocentric in our ecological interactions with our environment.
When I was on the plane headed back home from California, I reminisced on what I had learned. Maybe I had made an impact on those children. What if my words changed their lives, and they went on to take care of their backyard? This ripple effect changed my perception of what constitutes an ecologist. An ecologist is someone who not only studies the relationships between organisms and their environments but also someone who works to foster this relationship. I began to see the importance of the motif of education. My teacher was right.
From that day forth I saw the world from a new perspective. Whenever I went to a city, I frowned, because of all the pollution and rage that was rampant. I wanted to change this. When I moved to Florida, orange groves were as abundant as the eye could see. Eight years later, I can no longer find this to be true. New housing projects have engulfed the natural world, disrupting the many forms of wildlife, much as eminent domain does to people (without compensation). Through the knowledge I have gained from my passion of American history, I perceive the displacement of plants and animals as the Trail of Tears; except plants cannot move as easily. I have heard on the news multiple times of the Everglades being drained for commercial use. This horrifies me. To think of all the native species and endangered animals that are specialized, as to only be prosperous in the lands found in Florida, and to think that this terrestrial place will soon be depleted, has caused me to become impatient. I want this to end, "NOW!" This has sparked my interest in becoming an environmental engineer. I want to defend those that cannot speak, and I want to create some invention to one day come back home to save the orange groves and the Everglades.
As the Lorax said, "I speak for the trees." I find it absolutely unbearable to see other species suffer from the intolerable acts of mankind. I know of companies that dispose of hazardous waste into rivers that become the drinking water for nearby families. I know of the fertilizers from farmers that cannot penetrate the impervious surfaces of concrete roads and instead carry on to nearby streams, only to cause cultural eutrophication from the excess nitrogen that leads to the local extinction of many species. I know of the real cause of global warming: animal agriculture. I will not let these faults go unknown. I will educate the public, for they- in mass numbers- can pass laws and protect the environment. I, like Upton Sinclair, will bring unethical practices to the attention of all. I hope this scholarship can get me there.
Date: December 7, 2018 Views: 192 File size: 93.3kb : 211 x 280
Hours Volunteered: 100
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
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