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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, USA

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Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge, Tishomingo, Oklahoma, USA
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Registered: December 2018
City/Town/Province: Tishomingo
Posts: 1
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The secret is out: high school is a stressful experience. Between academics, extra-curriculars, and navigating teenage social life; responsibilities pile up in the blink of an eye. I know first-hand just how much of a toll each calculus assignment, chemistry test, and analytical essay can take. Every student can try their hardest to deal with the pressure, but everyone has a breaking point. At the end of the day, everyone needs to blow off steam. Of course, some coping methods are so destructive it negates their purpose. Everyone needs a positive way to calm down and a relaxing place to do it: a refuge so to speak.
I have been fortunate enough to live near such a place. Anytime high school pressures begin to wear on me, I take a drive to the Tishomingo National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). With trails to hike, rivers to kayak, and lakes to fish; I can truly decompress and find tranquility at TNWR. One breath of the fresh air is all it takes to relieve my stress and revive my motivation. Simply put, TNWR is what keeps me going and keeps me sane. After all that TNWR has done for me, I felt called to do something to give back. Unsure of what exactly needed to be done, I decided to go to the headquarters and ask how to start volunteering. A few forms and signatures later, I was on my way to the far corner of the refuge to remove litter. Piece by piece, trash bag by trash bag, the bed of my truck slowly filled to the brim. After I emptied my load, I drug myself back to my house. I was tired and hungry, but more satisfied with myself than I had ever been before.
In addition to litter removal, I began to take on more tasks such as maintaining trails, preparing for the yearly deer hunt, and invasive species management. As I spent more and more time at TNWR, I took notice of one particularly alarming issue: fishing line. Along almost every body of water was pounds and pounds of monofilament line. At first, I menially picked it up on my regular litter removal runs. However, given the massive amount of line, I soon decided it warranted some research. The results were disturbing. I had understood the devastating impact pollution has on ecosystems, but I had no idea how merciless fishing line can be. I had not considered that everything from swimmers, to wildlife, to boat propellers could become tangled and harmed by it for centuries. Moreover, I had not considered that the line could pose harm once it is removed from the environment, but it does. It turns out that monofilament line often is carried by the wind out of landfills and back into the very ecosystems it was removed from. I immediately knew something needed to be done. I zealously researched solutions and was ecstatic to find a fishing line recycling program.
The next day I discussed the recycling program with TNWR officials. They agreed it sounded like a solution to a pressing problem and gave the go ahead to put the program in place. I then contacted the local conservation organization. After explaining the need to recycle the line, the organization offered to pay for the expenses of putting the program in place. With funding secured, I spent the next couple of weeks ordering materials and building the bins themselves. Three monofilament fishing line recycling bins were soon placed at strategic locations throughout TNWR. Pending the success of these first three bins, I will continue to broaden the program's reach at TNWR. Several other local refuges and state parks have also expressed interest in the program. As long as they are as successful as expected, there will soon be fishing line recycling bins everywhere they are needed across the state.
It is my hope to keep fishing line out of the ecosystem for generations to come. I only received the joy and nirvana I did from the refuge because someone before me had worked hard to protect it. If I can help pass that on for even just one person, I will feel that I have accomplished something great.
Date: December 31, 2018 Views: 3159 File size: 14.4kb, 1408.5kb : 1451 x 2463
Hours Volunteered: 85
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 3,000
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