Before this past summer, I already had an interest in the environment. I have always been a pro-recycler, and would opt out of using plastic bags at the supermarket whenever possible. Despite this, I was never especially concerned for the future of our planet, however this quickly changed. Over the summer I attended the UVM Summer academy, located on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vermont. This program ran for two weeks, during which I had the opportunity to partake in a course of my choosing, and to explore the Burlington area, all while getting a taste of college life.
Correlating with my stereotyped “earthy-crunchy” personality, and already having an interest in the environment, I chose to take the Sustainable Ecology course offered. We became a tightly knit group; there were only ten students, and the course was run by two professors- both of which I admire. While during course hours we focused mainly on landscape and ecological deterioration, but outside of class we discussed further environmental issues and had multiple opportunities to attend nightly speakers and have group discussions.
In one of these sessions there was a highly successful twenty-something-year-old who was holding a question and answer group for students. He began by talking about how everyone has a passion, whether they’ve found it or not. He told us that “guilt is not a motivator,” at which point everyone began listening quite intently to what this man had to say. Next he went on further to talk about how there are so many issues, and that we really have to strive to figure out what is most important to us, and focus on that one issue. That focus, he said, was how an individual could make a change in the world.
Being on the UVM campus (widely recognized for its sustainable ways with recycling and composting anywhere you look), being surrounded by other environmentally conscious students, and listening to speakers such as the one above certainly got my gears turning. From that point on it took merely hearing different opinions on certain environmental issues, and having them debated by students with different fields of interest to appeal to my concern for the environment. It was a positive experience that has forever changed my life.
Keeping this experience in mind, I plan to write an environmental column once a month on relevant issues and topics. There are many ways that students themselves can help. I’ll gladly welcome any suggestions for specific topics or issues for future columns as well.
And don’t forget to recycle.