Registered: November 2015
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To begin, I entered the program with the expectation to help the environment because I love it. After the first event I attended cleaning up a section of Oregon's beaches I decided that this program was doing amazing things. After attending a few more events rehabilitating state parks I couldn't stop attending. There was so much engulfed in the program that I was itching to discover. This motivated me to keep attending events and take the next step into initiating myself as a leader. I felt that what the program was doing was so important that I needed to have an exclusive role in helping run it. So, I became a leader and an intern.
I feel that this transition that has brought me to where I am now was smooth for me. I held so much passion and so much determination there was nothing that could stop me from helping improve the environment and community through this program. It is hard to remember the journey I took, but it is easy to remember where it took me. I started off a basic volunteer in a group of people of many different ages and schools I did not know. After getting to know these people and the leader I fit into the program as a new and blossoming leader that started to help organize the events and work with the main team of the program. Through this I became an exclusive intern that does anything and everything that needs to be done for the program, and this is where I am now.
The most difficult aspect of this was preparing a project to take to Caretakers of the Environment International that our program is involved in. This conference is held annually in different countries with different themes. This year of 2015 it was held in Lisbon, Portugal and had a theme of Connecting Oceans to Minds. It is in this sense that we developed a project focusing on repairing and keeping healthy riparian zones. We worked in the field with this project the fall and winter of 2014 and spring of 2015. It took serious dedication and all of my free time. We then took this project to the conference in Portugal and presented it to the various groups from around the world that attended. Even though this was a very challenging experience it was also extremely rewarding. Experiencing such a different country and interacting with so many people from around the world changed both me and my delegation for the rest of our lives.
My program works with state parks and organizations such as Marion County 4H, Oregon State University Extension Service, and Marion Polk Food Share. It is through these organizations and parks that we can create curriculum's and organize events. To pursue these things we engage youth from schools and communities all over Salem. We work with kids from sixth grade and above helping them engage in their communities and find a purpose outside of school and home. To recruit these kids we attend their school and pitch the idea of our program to them. The kids that seem most interested for various reasons attend an event and decide if they want to continue the program. Through this, large diversity of students have the opportunity to engage in our program.
Through everything my program does we have a direct impact on people and the environment. We can see right away how the environment changes after we pull invasives, replant species, or clean up an area. This is one of the most fulfilling things for me about this program. It shows me that I have an impact directly on the ever endangered and collapsing environment, and this is the means for which I continue to volunteer. This program also impacts youth as they meet new, diverse people, make a difference in their community, and find what they are truly passionate about.
I think that through all of my hours and experiences with Youth Enviro Squad I have learned what it means to make a difference, take initiative, and have an impact on others. Never before had I thought about the environment as a living thing, as something that that, ultimately, takes care of us all. I discovered within myself this burning passion for the environment: to experience it and learn it and help it. As I learned more about the growing problems in the world surrounding the environment and the vast subjects surrounding the anatomy and physiology of it I grew into myself. I was no longer just a bystander of life but a pursuer of life. With this newfound passion I spent all of my free time taking great care and compassion for helping this entity that is so endangered. Plants and animals became my go to when I could not handle home, school, or social life. Through plants and animals I have learned so much: I have learned Passion, Independence, Empathy, Determination, I have learned Me.
In any educational, social, or work related area one has to know their strengths and weaknesses. They have to know who they are, what they're passionate about, what they want to become. Through my volunteer activities I have found a place of passion, a place to improve my weaknesses and my strengths, a place where my future lies. I believe that with this my future is made and my determination lies on making it happen, on succeeding.