~This blog entry is brought to you from the electronic portfolio of CS7 student Hattie Kaftan. Conserve School electronic portfolios connect student experiences to the school’s learning goals. Hattie is from Sparta, Wisconsin where she attends Sparta High Point Charter School.~
To Be A Hummingbird
At the very beginning, when I first arrived at Conserve School, I had one simple goal: to learn. All I wanted from this place was the opportunity to grow and understand; I wanted to be at a school where the other students wanted to be there too. This a place where inspired young adults can meet other, like minded, inspired young adults. Where the students are all here for the same reasons: to have new experiences, to make life-long connections and, last but not least, to learn how we can make a difference.
For my very first E-Portfolio entry I wrote something like this: “I came to Conserve so that I could better understand the environment and the steps that my generation are taking to help preserve this beautiful planet and the natural, healthy areas we have left. I believe that not everything to be learned can be taught in the traditional sense of schooling, and this is another reason I was so drawn to Conserve. My goal is to learn everything and anything that Conserve School is able to offer, from classroom lessons to simply connecting with the other students.” That is the goal that I set for myself in the beginning of the semester, and now, as I read over it, I realize that something isn’t quite right. I guess it’s the use of the word ‘preserve.’
Throughout the semester I have learned a lot. One of those things being that the basic concept of preservation is ‘look but don’t touch,’ which isn’t what I wanted at all. I wanted to help nature. I wanted to get my hands dirty and to do something to right the wrongs. The idea behind conservation is to protect and restore the natural environment, ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife. As humans we have made a mess, and now its time for us to clean it up. I came here in the hopes that I would be able to better understand and care for the environment around me. I wanted to know how we, my generation, could fix the mistakes of those before us. Instead I have learned how I can fix the mistakes of those before me.
Now, that might sound a little strange, but sometimes, as individuals, we try and think too big. We think on the global scale, we think of climate change, we think of pollution, we think of ice caps melting, of countries without clean drinking water. Then we get down, we give up, we ask “What’s the point? Nobody cares.” That’s when you have to realize, you care, and, if you care, so will others. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only that ever has.”
I realize now that sometimes we have to start small and work our way bigger; that the change doesn’t always happen all at once. In fact, it hardly ever happens all at once. You have to walk before you can run, right? So we need to start walking, we need to get out there and tell others what we know. Some people don’t even know there’s a problem; others refuse to see it. It’s this kind of thinking that has reshaped my views.
Over my time at Conserve my goal hasn’t changed, it has just developed into a different form. My new goal is composed of two things: to live and let live and to learn and let learn. In other words, I want to go out and teach others about the issues at hand. To educate them about the ‘who, what, where, when and whys’ of what’s happening to our world and how they can change everything. I want to never stop learning, and never stop trying to make a difference. So now, as the semester comes to an end, I leave a last little piece of advice:
The change starts with you.
“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” —Wangari Maathai
More photos from Hattie’s semester at Conserve School
Conserve School provides a semester-long immersion for high school students in environmental studies and outdoor activities that deepens their love of nature, reinforces their commitment to conservation, and equips them to take meaningful action as environmental stewards. Thanks to the generosity of Conserve School’s friends and its founder James Lowenstine all accepted students receive significant scholarship support.