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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Media, Pennsylvania, USA

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Media, Pennsylvania, USA
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mcoulter267



Registered: December 2020
City/Town/Province: Media
Posts: 1
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The outdoors has always been an outlet for me. No matter what is going on in life, there is always a trail or a stream where I can escape and unwind. I grew up in our natural lands. Over the years of fishing and camping in the state and national parks, nature felt more like home than my own house. As I grew older, I also grew more aware of the fact that these places that I grew up in are not a given part of everyone's life. Not everyone has a forest or a river in their backyard. I also learned the hard way that I might not have these places in my life forever either. As the years went by, there were fewer woodlands, fewer hiking trails, fewer clean streams, and fewer animals where I lived. It felt like every morning, on the bus ride to school, we would pass by a new development on the road. It wasn't like these were hospitals or shelters for the homeless. These were mansions and luxury apartment buildings replacing what was once habitat for deer and box turtles. These were places where I ran through during cross country practice and I played with friends on weekends. They were more than just trees and bushes to me. It was like they were digging up my living room or my bedroom. Little by little, there were fewer places to go, fewer places for kids to play, fewer places for people to fish, fewer places for families to roam. The worst part about all of it was that nobody spoke up. No one ever even mentioned it. It felt like nobody cared. If I ever asked somebody about it, they would always tell me that someone will speak up eventually. Someone will do something about it. Right?
Well, that someone never came. No one came in my grade school years. No one came in my middle school years. When I got to high school, I started to realize that "someone" was just an excuse that we use when we know that we are helpless. Instead of trying to tackle situations that are hard, we let someone else handle it. Or, at least we hope they will. But, what good is hope without action? I can tell my parents that I hope my little brother will do the dishes for me. But, trust me, those dishes are never getting done. I was surrounded by that mindset for years. After a while, it started to grow on me. I knew that the only person I had control over was myself.
So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew I couldn't single-handedly fix any of these issues. I was hardly old enough to drive. But I knew that I had an obligation to protect the places that gave me a bright childhood. I wasn't really ready to stand in front of a bulldozer to protect a couple of trees, but I knew that I still could use my voice.
One of my favorite activities as a child and to this day has been fishing. I am absolutely obsessed with the sport (though, not particularly good at it). So, I decided to start small with my conservation career. I decided I was going to make recycled fishing rigs, leaders, and lures. Although it cannot restore the places that have already been lost, it can help keep plastic and toxic metals out of waterways and ecosystems. Even in the suburbs, the woods and river systems in my watershed are very polluted. Every year, more and more floods, as well as droughts, rip through the creeks and rivers in our neighborhoods. In some places, there are literally shopping carts flipped over in the middle of the creek. I don't know about you, but that isn't exactly the kind of scenery I would like to be surrounded by while I'm fishing. Stepping over shattered glass, water bottles, and fishing line stuck in the mud was starting to get a little old, and downright depressing. Figuring out where to start was difficult. I tried fiddling with old bottle caps and using wrappers to try and make pieces for fishing lures, but all my attempts failed. But then, I realized that the easiest way to make recycled fishing tackle was just to use pieces of trash that were already once used for fishing. I started focusing my attention on gathering fishing line and lures. I took them home and cleaned them up. At first, they weren't pretty, but they were functional.
After a few months of tinkering, someone recommended that I started selling the abominations that were my products. I had learned how to make catfish rigs, spinning lures, fly fishing leaders, and even a glide bait made out of old plastic tubes. The only thing that looked even remotely sellable was my fly fishing leaders (which was quite convenient since I work at a fly fishing store). For packaging, I used old hook bags and I cut out pages of magazines to use as labels. I had started my own little company (of sorts). The realization that I could make money off of these gave me another idea. I decided to donate the profits to organizations that I knew. For the first few weeks of sales, the proceeds went to the Wildlife Leadership Academy, an organization I'm a part of where teens and young adults can get involved in conservation and gain skills for the workplace. The second organization I donated to was the American Red Cross for aid in forest fire relief. I sold my leaders at The Sporting Gentleman, which is the fly shop I work at. I tried to spread the word through social media which helped, but the project wasn't as successful as I had hoped. But, even though I didn't sell many, at the very least I was able to spread awareness about plastic pollution and climate change. So, at the end of the day, I can at least feel good about that.
Not everyone has to change the world to make a difference. Even the smallest actions are still a step in the right direction. Just because things may seem hopeless, it does not mean that it is too late for us to fix what has been damaged. Just like humans, nature can bounce back and push through even the hardest of challenges. We just need to give nature, as well as our fellow humans a chance. Everybody cares, even if they might not show it. Some are too afraid to speak out and many are just too overwhelmed and feel like their actions don't matter. But, everyone's actions matter. If we all realized that, we will be well on our way to changing the world.
Date: December 31, 2020 Views: 511 File size: 23.2kb, 4609.3kb : 4608 x 3456
Hours Volunteered: 15
Volunteers: 1
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17
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