Truly, I am a hippie at heart. I love the outdoors, camping, fishing, cycling, and occasionally hunting. When Trump got elected, and started taking steps aimed at dismantling the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service, I got pissed. I mean positively livid. I grew up outside, playing with my fiends in somebody’s back yard, riding our bikes all over our little one stoplight town, camping trips with my family on the Blue Ridge Parkway, lazy summer days at our little trailer by the lake, boating, swimming, fishing, and hiking. These were the things that made my childhood magical. These are the activities that shaped me. These are the experiences I want to share with my children, one day, to pass on my love of and reverence for nature, to instill in them the principles of conservation and stewardship. So to see our country’s leader declare war against the things that I hold dearest to my heart really set me off. And much as it may sound strange to say this; I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful because finally, after 17 years of soul searching, going to different colleges, trying out different careers, and earning various degrees, diplomas, and certificates, I have found my calling. This was the impetus behind my, once again, going back to school. Only this time I knew with out a doubt that I wanted to study Environmental Science. That wasn’t enough, though. Because despite all my credit hours and varied work force experiences, I don’t yet have enough credits to jump right into my field of study. I still have some basic freshman/sophomore level courses before I can begin taking “major level classes.” I want to do something now, not have to wait until I finish a four year degree. So with the help and advice of some awesome friends, I came up with an action plan to do things now that will protect the environment whilst simultaneously building my resume. Here they are:
- Lead by Example- When we were dating, my husband and I bonded over our mutual love of Tiny Houses, and our intention to Grow Food Not Lawns. The first summer we were together, we had tomatoes planted in our front yard. This year I’m taking that several steps further. I already have a fair amount of sweet mint, peppermint, rosemary, and bee balm planted in the front yard. I have a compost pile in “the back 40” where the neighbors can’t see. I’ve built one small hugelkultur in the front yard, and plan to do several more over the next few weeks. This year we will in fact Grow Food Not Lawns. I plant to, at some point, make a few signs for the neighbors to read as they walk past, so as to educate, and hopefully inspire my fellow historic district residents. I’m also starting a diet. I’m trying to cut back on my car usage, so I’m finding more ways to walk or ride my bike to run errands or go to work. Again, my neighbors see this, and comment on it. If I can get just one more person to follow suit, I’ll feel like I’ve done something.
- Get Certified- After talking with a colleague who works at the Land Trust for Central NC, I found out that there is a nearly free program through the NC Department of Environmental Quality, through which I can become a Certified Environmental Educator. Now this program is not just a bunch of workshops for me to sit through and be a mere student. As I progress through the self-paced program, I will be required to teach classes, and the experience culminates with my designing, executing, and leading a community project. Additionally I am going to be following in the footsteps of my father, and (the nerd in me really wants to say become a Jedi) obtain my certification to be a Hunter Safety Instructor. This will allow me to assist the Land Trust with their youth outreach program, with the aim of getting more kids outside. Getting the younger generations involved is key to keeping the cause of Environmental Protection alive. We need these kids to be passionate about the natural world. I have also signed up on Greenpeace’s Greenwire website for a six week webinar series on grassroots activism.
- Volunteer- This goes hand in hand with the above, but even while I’m getting these certifications I can participate in activities with local advocacy groups. I’ve got a couple of events with the Land Trust that I will be helping with. Also, in the past my husband and I have cooked and served lunch at the local homeless shelter. Currently we are trying to get a group of friends together to do this on a more regular basis. The aforementioned community project might have a tie-in to the homeless shelter. As I build rapport with the people there, I will see what possibly could be done in the way of setting up a compost pile and vegetable garden on the property.
- Blog- Right now the only person who reads this is me. As time goes on I hope to get more exposure and use this blog to inspire others. I hope to use a mix of humor and honesty to make this interesting enough to keep people coming back regularly for fresh ideas and information. If nothing else this will serve as some sort of documentation of my efforts, and who knows? Maybe this will help me land an awesome job where I will have access to even more resources to educate the public, and combat pollution.