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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Louisville, Kentucky, USA

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Louisville, Kentucky, USA
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Emily5



Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: Louisville
Posts: 1
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Saving the Polar Bear


My name is Emily, and here in Louisville, Kentucky, they call me “the polar bear girl.” My Apprentice Ecologist project has been an ongoing project for the past three years. In 2007, I was privileged to be able to go to the Arctic to study polar bears and how climate change is affecting them. This experience affected me profoundly. I looked a polar bear in the eyes, and came away with the realization that I had to do something to save this magnificent species. I came home ready to teach my community about how the bears and their ecosystem are suffering, and this has been my passion since that day.
As I formed my action plan for educating my community, I decided that I needed to learn as much as possible about climate change. When I discovered that climate change is already affecting our whole planet, and has already pushed hundreds of species into extinction, I knew that the education of my community was vital. I also knew that everyone loves polar bears, and using them as a way to get my message across would be a great way to reach people. With my passion in tow, I started reaching out and giving presentations to anyone who would listen. To date, I have given talks to over 6,000 people in over 200 groups, including scout troops, school groups, zoo camps, Kiwanis groups, Rotary clubs, local women’s clubs, many state parks, several environmental conferences, and I was a keynote speaker at our Bioneers conference this fall. I have set up booths all over the city for dozens of events, teaching everyone I can reach about the threat of climate change, using my love for polar bears as a way to get my message across. I wrote a website where people can pledge to reduce their carbon footprint, getting pledges from all over the world (www.louisvillezoo.org/projectpolarbear). I also organized recycling projects in a dozen large companies and I now have three girl scout troops and one school collecting aluminum tabs.
In 2009, I decided that I needed to take my work a step further. So I started going into companies and businesses to convince them to make changes in their energy use that would have a huge impact on climate change. I have worked with over 50 companies so far. One of my biggest successes was to convince a company that owns 40,000 restaurants across the globe to change their restaurant policy manual to say that the restaurant computers should be turned off at night. This saved 8 million pounds of carbon emissions per year. I also was able to makes similar policy changes in our major school systems, and recently convinced the University of Louisville to make similar new policies. So far my work has saved over 100 million pounds of carbon emissions per year. That’s enough CO2 to fill up 5,000 football stadiums!
In 2010 I turned my attention to healthcare, one of the largest emitters of carbon emissions. I have worked with local hospitals and have them making policy changes to lower their energy usage. I wanted to reach all medical practitioners in the state, so I organized a “greening of healthcare” conference that was held in October. I was able to get Jeff Corwin from Animal Planet to be the keynote speaker, and there were over 200 attendees. It was a great success, and I am already planning the next conference for 2011.
I am a sophomore at the University of Louisville studying biology and ecology, and I hope to earn a doctorate in wildlife conservation. It is my dream to spend my life saving endangered species and ecosystems. In the fall of 2011 I will be volunteering in Churchill, Manitoba, with Polar Bears International on their live educational programs to schools. I also volunteer with NEEF, the National Environmental Education Foundation, on ways to educate students about environmental issues. I give, on average, 20 hours per week to my work to save the polar bears. Being known as “the polar bear girl” is a great honor, and helps me know that I am reaching a lot of people with my message.
I have been back to the Arctic twice since my first time there. I just returned from my latest trip in November of this year, and each time I go I come home even more dedicated to saving the bears. During this last trip, I saw a lot of thin, hungry bears, and I stayed on pins and needles waiting for the ice to form in the Hudson Bay so the bears could go out and hunt. The situation is grim. However, I was able to spend time with the world’s leading polar bear researcher, Dr. Steven Amstrup, and he gave me a great gift - the assurance that there is still hope to save the polar bear. So I will continue my work in educating my community about the threat of climate change, and how it is up to each one of us to do our part. If we all work together, we can save the polar bear, and all of the magnificent creatures we live with on our amazing planet.


END OF ESSAY



Post-project Interview with NWP:


WHERE DO YOU ATTEND OR PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE AND WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/INTEREST?


I am attending the University of Louisville, studying biology and ecology.


HOW WILL YOU USE THIS SCHOLARSHIP TOWARD YOUR EDUCATION?


I will use this award to help pay for my tuition.


HOW ELSE WILL YOU BE PAYING FOR YOUR ACADEMIC AND RELATED EXPENSES WHILE IN COLLEGE?


I pay for my tuition and books partially with money from working, and then I borrow the rest. I pay for my books and other expenses by continuing to work throughout the year. My parents pay for as much of my expenses as they can.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE EDUCATIONAL, CAREER, AND LIFE GOALS?


After I get my degree in biology/ecology, I hope to earn a Master’s degree in wildlife conservation, and then hopefully a Ph.D. in the same field. I am already looking for possible schools to apply to after my undergraduate studies are completed. After school is over, then the work really begins! I will have the education I need to make my voice heard in a big way. I hope to find a position where I can educate the world about how crucial it is for us to preserve our natural world. I hope to work in either the government or a wildlife conservation group and do what I can to make a difference. I can’t wait to get started!


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT MADE POSSIBLE BY THE APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE?


The long-term benefits of the Apprentice Ecologist Initiative project to youth and the environment are many. When I first learned about the Initiative, I was motivated by what I read on the Nicodemus Wilderness Project website to push myself even harder to do my environmental work. Your project has the power to motivate and inspire the youth in our country to get started on doing what they can do to help. Having your guidance and support is a crucial element in helping to keep our youth empowered and believing that they can, even as only one person, make a difference.



HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?


I am so honored to receive this award! My life is enriched by receiving it, and not just in a monetary way. I do my environmental work because I am compelled to, so to have this kind of recognition for my work is so rewarding. I am now even more motivated to keep trying!


WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AN ACTIVE STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?


I will always be a steward of the environment. I have been profoundly affected by my experiences in the Arctic, to the point that helping to preserve and conserve our world is my reason for being. One of my main messages when I give presentations is to let people know that they can make a difference. Each person has the power to make a difference, and if we all work together, we can solve our problems. As an Inuit native once told me in the Arctic, “Mother Nature has always taken good care of us. Now it is our turn to take care of her.” The only way we will solve our many issues is for each of us to be an active steward.
· Date: December 29, 2010 · Views: 7045 · File size: 13.8kb, 1642.6kb · : 3648 x 2736 ·
Hours Volunteered: 3000
Volunteers: 75
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 20 & 5 to 50
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 45000
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