Friday, October 19, 2007

The Beginnings of a Great Fall Break

As a student in Dr. Sara Grove's Honors Colloquium class, I was at first a little leery and just a bit apprehensive of the Wallops Island experience. Oyster census? Cleaning? No air conditioning? Bad food?!

Well, I said to myself, I can handle the lack of air conditioning and bad food...years of summer camp in cabins with the bare minimum (i.e. floors, walls, roof, bunk beds, electricity, and not much else) toughened me up, ha. Perhaps what was trying to hold me back was the fact I was "giving up" my whole fall break. No sleeping in...in fact, every day I would have to get up early in the morning! Despite this, I still decided to go because it was something different, something I never did before. Plus, it couldn't be worse than my spring break trip to New York City during a snow/wind advisory where everything shut down...

So there I was with my luggage and sleeping bag waiting for the vans to come. I believe it was here when I started to get excited. It was something new, something good, and, yes, something educational (because I am a nerd). When we got down there, I was actually surprised because it was a little better than what I had expected. What got to me were the spiders, but they are killable, so that's ok.

Saturday was the start of our class' excursion as we presented our poster board depicting the life of Rachel Carson at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. We received much attention from those passing by and even attracted the interest of children. We wanted the public to see and understand how dedicated Rachel Carson was with the environment and in trying to shine a light on the harmful effects of the government's use of DDT. I was surprised to see how many people showed up to the refuge because before this class, I had never heard of Rachel Carson. As I talked to some of the individuals I met, it was refreshing to be reminded that there still exists people who realize the importance of maintaining our environment for the benefit of ourselves and posterity.

Rachel Carson paved the way for us to become more environmentally friendly and conscious...not just to help out nature, but to help ourselves! Chemical companies tried to hush her words concerning DDT, but did that stop her? Obviously not. She was passionate in what she not only believed, but knew. She is an example of what we should be. We know not recycling is bad. We know guzzling gasoline is bad. We know dumping toxic chemicals, including hormones like estrogen, into our waters is bad. Are we passionate enough to do something---anything---about it? Maybe we need to be more like Rachel Carson. This is what I have learned from the experience. We all need just a little bit of Rachel Carson in us.

More about the trip later!

7 comments:

a beach lover said...

Emily you and all the students who went on this trip are really awesome to give up your fall break to do some hard work. I enjoyed reading your perspective of the experience, great descriptions. Pretty funny to picture a shut down New York city as a measure of how much discomfort you can cope with. And braving the spiders, that takes real guts! Your words about Rachel Carson are just beautiful. I can't wait to hear more about the trip.

bigtobe said...

As everyone has already stated, the weeks leading up to the fall break trip to Wallops Island were filled with apprehension. I could not agree more. I am a senior here at Shippensburg University, and have never took a step back and admired the wonders of nature during a break from classes. In fact, my normal fall, spring, and winter breaks have always been full of work, work, and more work. This opportunity was an amazing one full of out of the classroom learning, serving, and relaxation. Three things that are relatively foreign to me. The conditions we braved were less than comfortable, but definitely acceptable. The service we provided to the National Park Service made the trip completely worthwhile and has instilled a sense of service inside of me. The amount of litter we picked up was extraordinary. It is disappointing to realize the apathy we have toward our environment. If we each spend a little bit of time caring for our environment, it would be astounding to see what could be accomplished in cleaning up our Earth. Better yet, holding onto our trash for a few extra minutes while we find a proper receptacle would be an even better alternative to environmental cleanup. The efforts of one to clean our Earth can easily be overlooked; but the efforts of large groups can not only make an impact, but also raise awareness. Our group did exactly that earlier this month. We raised awareness and made a considerable impact and I'm proud to be a part of it all.

kattastrophe said...

I personally wasn’t a part of Dr. Grove’s class or the project about Rachel Carson. However they did a wonderful job on their display.

I was a part of the Environmental Sociology class from Shippensburg University which also participated in The National Wildlife Refuge Celebration that occurred on Columbus Day weekend. There was amazing displays of artwork and an array of activities created for children and families. On Saturday morning I was able to participate by working at a craft table making magnets with children. We helped the children pick out an animal to color and then place the magnetic strip on the back when they were done.
Although craft making is something I love to do, the most enjoyment that I received from that day was being able to observe and contribute to the interactions of children and their parents. I loved hearing the parents explain the different animals and what they did to the children as they picked them out. The sense of excitement and eagerness to learn that these children displayed towards the wildlife had a great impact on me. As I think about the future, I wish that it was easier to share the amazing world that surrounds us in a way that creates excitement and eagerness to make a difference for the betterment of our environment. If only it was as easy to excite and interest the average Joe to be aware and conscious of the wildlife that inhabits our beautiful earth it would probably be easier to influence a positive change.
While the rest of the Alternative Fall Break played out were taught many different ways that we, ourselves, could make a difference. Through learning about Rachel Carson and her effectiveness on environmental policy and speakers who talked about Waterkeepers and Shorekeepers as well as effective writing we all walked away with knowledge that can affect our impact on those we come into contact with. This trip offered the tools, now it is our turn to set them into action.

the muffine man said...

Like most everyone else, I had no idea what to expect from the trip. With the trip only a few days away and there we were putting together a poster board outlining the life and achievements of Rachel Carson. Once arriving at the park center and setting up our display I started to question how many people were going to get the message of Rachel Carson. We seemed to be in a pretty remote area. However, as the morning wore on I realized how wrong I was. When it was my turn to man the poster table I was amazed as people started arriving and stopped to take a second and learn about Rachel Carson. One woman in particular was there with her daughter and both stopped to look at our poster. The woman said to the daughter to remember the name of Rachel Carson and that she would learn more or her impact as she grew older. As we were about to leave I got the chance to speak on the radio and hopefully encouraged many more to learn about Rachel Carson and the differences she made. How many will be affected by one small act? How many more will go on to make a positive difference in the lives of others?

Mustafa said...

I agree that at first I was unsettled about giving up my fall break to go on a service trip and clean up a marsh. Fall break is supposed to be about forgetting about classes, and having time to relax, not go on a school trip to an island you’ve never heard of and pick up trash. Yet all the negative thoughts I had about this trip were put to rest once we got to the Marine Science Center. The hardest ordeals of the trip were waking up early each morning and dealing with the onslaught of mosquito’s and other biting insects, but I what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. Our time at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge seemed to pass by very quickly. One minute we were on a hay ride seeing the affects of the drought, then I was sitting out in the sun giving out bookmarks and coloring books to little children, and then we were kayaking! It was very rewarding seeing so many little kids spending their morning learning about our environment and stopping by our poster to learn about Rachel Carson. I just hope we had an impact on those children, that they’ll remember “oh yeah, I saw a poster on Rachel Carson when I was younger. Maybe I should read about her.”

Vinny R. said...

As being a part of the Environmental Sociology class that went on this trip, I had no say whether or not I wanted to give up my fall break. I didn’t feel like it was going to be a good time having to sacrifice my free time for a long drawn out weekend in the wilderness. I know that many of my classmates felt the same way but we all made the best of it and I think it really turned out to be a great experience for everyone.

As we loaded the vans to embark on this trip I just looked around at all peoples faces. It was not hard to tell the ones that were forced to go on this trip from the ones that voluntarily when on the trip. I really think that everyone that had mixed feelings about this adventure changed their minds about one day into the trip. All of the skeptics began to realize that this was not going to be as bad as they thought and they also realized that they were making an impact on the local community. This weekend was one that I would like to repeat again in the future if the opportunity arises.

This was truly a different experience from the ‘normal’ fall break and I think it is one that everyone should get involved in if they get the chance, so they can see that there are other alternatives to just going home and doing nothing for a long weekend. The difference that you can make in a small community can be a big deal for the people that you have impacted and the friends that you can make on a trip like this can last you a lifetime, it all depends on if these people have the will to take a chance and do something different with their time.

kmarie said...

Thanks for your effort at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge presenting the Rachel Carson poster. I really enjoyed the refuge and volunteering. I was at the bird feeder station. It was a great time to help the children that came to make feeder. It was a little messy but so much fun and worth it. Everyone had a story as they came around to the table. I'm glad that we can all share our own story here!