Disclaimer. I love my planet. I am a tree-hugging, pollinator-loving, native plant-growing woman. But, sometimes, I forget to tell my waiter to hold the plastic straw, and I have been known to forget my reusable bag in my car at the grocery store. I am not perfect, but I try.
I am also someone who wants to try and do better for our Earth. I have been increasingly discouraged about what we humans have been putting our planet through. It seems like Mother Earth is getting tired of all of our pestering too–increasing temperatures, extinctions of species at an alarming rate, landscapes changed in the name of “progress.” What can one person do?
It turns out, one person can do quite a bit. I am continuing my education through Project Dragonfly housed at Miami University. There is a program called the Global Field Program where students travel to conservation hotspots throughout the world to learn how to support conservation efforts. This past summer, I embarked on my first Earth Expedition to Baja California, Mexico. Baja California is unique with the desert ecosystem on the peninsula and a vibrant marine environment in the seas. I began to learn first hand how others were able to grow environmental stewardship one person at a time. It is now my turn to take the fight for a healthier planet to both my local and global communities.
My biggest take-away this summer was how the power of one, multiplied by many can make a difference. It was easy to see how stewardship has played a role in Bahia de los Angeles. Overfishing by local fisherman has shifted to ecotourism by these same men. The bay is gorgeous and charismatic megafauna abound in the sea. One by one, more people within the community are policing themselves while taking tourists out to swim with whale sharks or watching dolphins soar past.
But what about other locales? While in the heart of the Vizcaino Desert at Rancho San Gregorio, I still noticed how important the land was to the community. While the bay was all movement and colors, the ranch was subtle and serene… but no less beautiful. It was humbling to learn how the plants played such a significant role in supporting the family’s livelihood. Whether it be for food, shelter or medicinal purposes, the flora of the area were vital members of the community.
Recently, this area has been designated as the Valle de los Cirios Biological Reserve. This ecological distinction happened because one man had a dream. Then, it was soon discovered, a second man did too. Slowly, their dreams inspired the protection and education of the area for years to come.
Bramston, Pretty, and Zammit (2010) put into words what I noticed helped to motivate others to protect their local ecosystems in Baja California. First, there was a sense of belonging to the area they were trying to protect. Second, there was education within the community to increase their personal learning about why it would be beneficial to protect certain aspects of the environment. Finally, this developed a need to be a caretaker of the environment.
My journey into Baja California showed me how a community can embrace environmental stewardship. I am now home in Saint Peters, Missouri where we have a thriving Conservation Department and a variety of environmentally conscious groups. Not only have I joined my voice with theirs, I want to encourage others to come join me. Our planet won’t heal simply because we wish it could happen and talk about it. The time for action is here.
My current favorite quote says,
“One person can
only do so much!”
Do not be discouraged.
Join me in helping our home to heal.
Take Action in Saint Louis, Missouri!
Advanced Inquiry Program through the Missouri Botanical Gardens
Bramston, P., Pretty, G., & Zammit, C. (2010). Assessing Environmental Stewardship
Motivation. Environment and Behavior,43(6), 776-788. doi:10.1177/001391651038287