I’m an environmentalist. No, not a hippie, but an environmentalist. I’m a person who works to protect the natural world from human destruction and other threats and an advocate for environmentalism. When I say environmentalism, I mean advocacy of education, preservation, restoration, and improvement of the natural environment. My road to being the environmentalist is long and curvy. Let me tell you my story.
Some might consider my generation to have lived their whole life indoors and are known as “containerized kids”, but in my case this would be a huge mistake. My entire childhood was spent outside due to growing up on a farm miles away from the nearest city. I grew up climbing trees, building forts, kayaking, geocaching, etc. (the list would continue forever if I continued). I love being outside learning, playing, and running free, and I want others to experience that too. These activities and family vacations to multiple national/state/local parks has sparked my internal love for the natural environment.
In high school, I battled with my future career path. I had a passion for nature, but I also wanted to tell everyone around me about the environment. My path was foggy and growing up in a small town in Iowa did not help with discovering my opportunities. I started at Buena Vista University (BVU) in Storm Lake, Iowa in 2010 with the hopes of combining two majors, Environmental Studies and Digital Media. At the time, my family and friends thought I was insane for combining two opposite majors. However, I had a goal in mind, and I had made a promise to myself to accomplish that goal.
On March 15th, 2007, I wrote in my diary that I was going to change the world and the way people thought about the natural environment. My environmental studies professors at BVU helped grow my passion, but they did not help me achieve my goal. They only pushed me closer. Upon graduation from BVU, my path was still foggy, but the fog started lift once I landed my first position with the Conservation Corps of Minnesota and Iowa (CCMI). For a year, I worked at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge as a community mapping and outreach specialist for Project Get Outdoors. This position opened me up to environmental education (EE) and working with youth. All of a sudden, a fire was lit under me, and my goal was in sight.
I am a strong supporter of society doing their best to help the environment be healthier. I promote sustaining the natural environment because future generations depend upon it. What better way to promote such a thing than with environmental education. I want to educate people, especially youth, about the world around them. We cannot separate ourselves from what supports our daily lifestyles, but we sure can make it cleaner and healthier.
Consequently, education about the environment is not going to change the world. Without play, passion, and pride in nature, education of the subject means nothing. I believe that as environmentalist and educators, we should leave room for students to be creative, have freedom, and explore nature on their own. Richard Louv, a nonfiction author and journalist, has inspired me to think this way about EE with his book Last Child in the Woods.