I grew up on the outskirts of a small town where the summers were hot, the winters blanketed the roads in ice, and the wind blew strong all year round. I played in childhood soccer games and spent hours running outdoors during high school cross country practice. I would go on the occasional hike or camping trip, but I didn’t find a true passion for the environment until late in high school.
Following in my older brothers’ footsteps, I joined my high school’s environmental club where we built and maintained trails, raised and hatched salmon eggs, and learned about environmental issues. It was during environmental club meetings that I first learned about fish habitats, invasive species, and local environmental issues. I found the natural world and all of its issues fascinating, which led me to sign up for my school’s first ever Environmental Science class during my Junior year.
It was a new class – there were only about 8 people signed up for the course, but that didn’t stop us from tackling some big subjects, from population growth to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. I was hooked. I loved learning about environmental issues and what I could do to lessen my impact on the planet, and what we as a collective society needed to do to make change. It wasn’t long before I realized my passion for the natural world, and knew that my work within the environmental field would go far beyond my Environmental Science class.
I was so enthralled with environmental issues that when it came time to apply for college, I knew I wanted to study the environment further. The prospect of studying issues and solutions to some of our world’s biggest problems had me itching to spend my post high school years learning more about the environment. During college, I spent close to four years learning about an array of environmental topics including Eco justice, ethics, and even environmental psychology. I learned about the wonders of the world, the ways in which people interact with our natural world, and gained a better understanding of how to best combat environmental issues.
Since graduating, my passion for the environment has only grown as I have been able to work with some wonderful organizations that promote outdoor education, stewardship, and conservation. I have led restoration projects where youth dug up Himalayan Blackberry root balls as big as footballs, participated in kayak cleanups on Lake Union, and most recently, hiked to Carter Falls at Mount Rainier National Park – all things I would not have done without finding my passion for the environment.
It’s amazing to reflect back on what first interested me in the natural world – My high school environmental club. Without that club, or the coinciding environmental science class, I don’t know if I would have been exposed to the topic that encompasses who I am today. While something may seem so small at the time, you never know how important it may be.