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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Great Falls Park, McLean, Virginia, USA

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Great Falls Park, McLean, Virginia, USA
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lesliejaz29



Registered: December 2017
City/Town/Province: Falls Church
Posts: 1
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Protecting the environment is not a passion I have always had, but it is one I am proud to have. I won the title of Teen Miss Earth United States 2017 due to my environmental efforts. After participating in many environmental cleanups with my title, I began organizing my own in areas I thought needed help the most. I arranged cleanups at local parks, schools, and Boys and Girls Clubs. I decided to expand my efforts by doing Apprentice Ecologist Project at Great Falls National Park.
Great Falls National Park hosts hundreds of visitors each day and I had seen large amounts of litter during my visits which made it the perfect place to host a cleanup. I invited people I knew to participate and was able to form a group consisting of two of my friends from school, and Miss District of Columbia Earth United States. My next step was contacting the rangers at Great Falls National Park to get permission to clean the trail and see which part they thought needed to be cleaned most. They informed me there was an area littered with garbage, but it could be slightly dangerous. However, my group was ready for the challenge and so was I. As we arrived at Great Falls, we met with our amazing ranger, Andrew, and he took us to the spot we would be cleaning for the day. It was immediately clear why the site was closed off and they warned us that it may be dangerous.
The part of the trail we were on had been blocked off due to the large amounts of debris that had washed up when the Potomac River flooded during a recent rainstorm. The site was located on a large cliff, so we had to walk carefully to ensure that we did not slip and fall. My group was not scared of the challenge and attacked it head on. The entire area was covered with multiple layers of wood planks so we did not have any solid ground to stand on which made it even more difficult. We started by clearing out the items closest to us and working our way out toward the cliff. Although we wore thick gloves, there was broken glass everywhere that we had to be careful of. Since many of the items could be recycled, we had separate bags for trash and recycling. We found everything from bottles to shoes to tires in the area. One of my group members took on the task of going through the bushes and shrubs to collect items from there. Each time we seemed to clear an area, we found more items while walking back through. My group used this as a motivating factor to work harder. After our three-hour timeslot had passed, we asked the ranger if we could stay longer to continue working. He was shocked at our request and allowed us to stay an extra hour. By the time we were finished, we had collected over eight bags of trash and recycling.
The ranger explained people rarely volunteer and I was one of the few people who had reached out to organize an event that did not correlate with Earth Day or another environmental holiday. Hearing that people rarely volunteer was very upsetting because it meant that there was very little being done to help our environment in that particular area. Cleaning up this particular area of the park was important because all of the items could eventually fall back into the Potomac River below. For many years, organizations, such as the Potomac River Conservancy, have been working to clean the river so it was vital to prevent trash from entering. The river is very valuable to my area because the drinking water for Washington D.C, Northern Virginia, and Maryland comes from it.
Organizing and participating in my Apprentice Ecologist Project reminded why it is so important to take extra steps in protecting our environment and getting others involved as well. My two friends that took in the cleanup had never participated in any environmental volunteering before. After seeing how much trash we were able to collect, they were very proud of the impact they would have on our environment. They were shocked at the amount of trash in that area and even more shocked that there was much more floating in the river. From participating in this one project, they both learned how necessary it is to go beyond the day to day steps to really make a difference. Seeing the impact that the project had on my friends encouraged me to continue educating others about how and why they should help the environment. With spring arriving soon, I have already begun planning events to take place in the new year. The effect of my Apprentice Ecologist Project inspired me to continue my efforts into the new year to have a more positive impact on my environment.
Date: December 31, 2018 Views: 3201 File size: 25.6kb, 3933.4kb : 4032 x 3024
Hours Volunteered: 16
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 19 & 16 to 24
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