Rooted deep in the history of the United States sits one of the most important issues of our time: conservation. As far back as the 19th century, conservation has been in the national spotlight, from the creation of the National Park Service to continued activism among citizens and corporations to protect our planet.
However, over the last few months, conservation and the health of the Earth have seemingly been under attack. Government budget cuts and law changes threaten the foundations built in our country to protect our planet, and it is now up to us to stand up and defend it.
This can often seem difficult, however, especially as a college student. You may feel that you don’t have a big enough platform or enough money to affect significant change at this point in your life. Many of us feel this way even after college; thinking that without a large platform, there is nothing we can do.
One of the main reasons we feel powerless is that what we see on the news is of national scale and does not seem within our reach to help. It is important to remember that there are many ways to become involved in your local community that can have an impact on the planet as well as others who want to become involved in conservation.
“I would tell students to get out there and find ways in your area to get involved and volunteer,” said Kirstin Winchester, recent Pittsburg State University graduate, and current Missouri Department of Conservation monitoring technician. “It can be something as little as planting some milkweed in your flowerbed for Monarchs or joining a Stream Clean Team to help our rivers be healthier.”
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, there are 39 conservation events occurring in central Missouri between now and the end of July. These events can present an opportunity to learn about and become more involved in conservation in your community, as well as meet others in your area interested in the same.
I try to get involved in local conservation in as many ways as I can. I write articles here, at the CAFNR Corner Post, to try and inspire readers and other students to get involved and realize the importance of conservation. I also participate in events, such as Sustainability Week, here at MU, to help contribute to the health of our planet and spread the word about its importance.
“In general, having contact with nature benefits you as an individual,” said Charles Nilon, MU Natural Resources professor. “But it is also important in a societal way.”
The Adopt-A-Highway program exemplifies the societal benefits of conservation that many do not realize. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, nearly 50,000 volunteers work to conserve the areas around more than 6,200 miles of roadway in Missouri. These efforts are crucial to conserve areas of nature that would otherwise go neglected and deteriorate, and provide a way to directly affect conservation in the state.
We are also sometimes afforded the unique opportunity to be directly involved in national issues that are in the news, and it is important to take part in events that pertain to those issues whenever they come to your city. On Earth Day, the March For Science in Washington, D.C., hosted a satellite march in Boone County. This provided an opportunity for people to participate and make a difference in a national-scale event that would normally be out of reach.
Although issues we care about, such as conservation, often seem overwhelming, it is up to us to take a stand and help to conserve the only planet that we have.
“If more students could get involved in some way, even if it’s something little,” Winchester said, “I think you’d be surprised what can be accomplished.”