info@delawareipl.org (302) 703-7086

Alexander Okenzcyc

Tower Hill High School

Web of Wonders

 

The web of life is an intricately interconnected and profound system that spans every living organism, community, and ecosystem. It is a delicate balance that sustains life on Earth, and humans are an integral part of it. Our actions, whether positive or negative, have a direct impact on the environment and the living beings around us. Yet still, many don’t understand how crucial it is that we understand the importance of our connection with nature, how it inspires us to protect it, and how we can inspire that sense and motivation in others. My sense of connectedness with nature began at a young age growing up in the suburbs, surrounded by a concrete jungle. Fortunately in Elkton where I once lived, Fair Hill State Park was nearby. I was fascinated by the trails and the vast openness of it all. Yet with the fields came the forests and the many organisms that lived there. The idea of conservation became increasingly important to me as I became more aware of the consequences of climate change and the devastating effects it has on the environment; day after the day, the news would discuss the effects and different ‘global policies’ that should change the world, yet it never felt like it affected anything, or that it was enough. Even driving by the side of a highway, a mountain of litter and plastics, sadly a common sight anymore, left me with a feeling worse off than before. As a result, I became more conscious of my choices to reduce my carbon footprint and promote sustainable living. Simple changes such as reducing the use of plastic bags and pushing for my family to use reusable ones. However, I soon realized that these small changes were not enough. That was when I joined the environmental club at my school. There wasn’t any pride in it when I joined, it felt more like the minimum anyone could do. But then there was the discussion of an upcoming protest in Wilmington. I was excited, but there was also a feeling of nervousness. The day of, we met some of the already rallying people that were walking by the school, joining the small this somewhat small group, we went on, going from school to school. Eventually we were by the road that led to President Biden’s house, the closest we were going to get to the president. The sheer number of people and the fact that I was in front, carrying a banner felt amazing. Yet it also made me realize that some people either still did not accept the issue of climate change, or weren’t willing to change their lifestyle to accompany it. Many of the diesel guzzling trucks on the side sped up layering us with smog simply in spite of our protest. Yet what felt amazing was the fact that for every one person against us, there were 10 that honked their horns, cheering us on. Yet the sense of connectedness with nature still continues to be fostered within me by spending time in natural spaces. Whether it’s hiking in the mountains or swimming in the ocean, being in nature allows me to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to appreciate the beauty of the natural world. I find that being in nature helps me feel a sense of peace and tranquility, and it reminds me of the importance of preserving the natural environment for future generations. One example of this was when I was fortunate enough to visit the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and hike Mt. Jackson. It was a refresher of what the true wild was like and how little touched places were, when they were preserved with effective government policies. It was one of the few places where I never saw litter. Compared to parks in the city, it was beautiful. Besides the beautiful valleys and ridgelines, the fact that even the water was clean enough to drink straight from the stream was amazing to me. I never thought in a million years that one could  simply trust the creeks or streams that were in America due to the thoughtless pollution from both corporations and people alike. That concerned me, I never thought before about how that is an issue, it was just such a well understood thing that it was not even considered a problem, it was simply just ignored. We need to educate people about the importance of how subtle changes like this have led to us being more tolerant with issues concerning pollution. By sharing stories about the beauty and wonder of nature, we can help people to develop a deeper connection with the environment and inspire them to protect it. We can also share stories about the impacts of climate change and how it is affecting communities and ecosystems around the world. These stories can help people to understand the urgency of the problem and inspire them to take action. Creating opportunities for people to connect with nature is another way to inspire that sense of connection and motivation. We need to provide opportunities for people to spend time in natural spaces, whether it’s through community gardens, parks, or nature reserves. By providing opportunities for people to connect with nature, we can help inspire them to protect it. Another way to inspire that sense of connection and motivation is through art. Art can be a powerful tool in connecting people with nature and inspiring them to protect it. Artistic expressions such as music, dance, and poetry can help people to develop a deeper connection with nature and to appreciate its beauty and wonder. Art can also be used to tell stories about the environment, to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change, and to inspire action. Art has the power to move people emotionally, and it can be a powerful tool in inspiring people to protect the environment. Within Teton National Park, I saw many examples of this, passing through different local stores I noticed that many different artisanal crafts made use of the land in a sustainable way, yet they were able to make similar products as to giant, polluting corporations, with half the waste per item. Collaboration and community engagement are also crucial in inspiring a sense of connection and motivation in others. We need to work together to create a

sustainable future for ourselves and for future generations. By engaging with our communities, we can build support for sustainable initiatives and create a sense of collective responsibility for the environment. We need to work with businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations to promote sustainable practices and policies. Education is also a key factor in inspiring a sense of connection and motivation in others. We need to educate people about the impacts of climate change and the importance of sustainability. This education should start at a young age and should be integrated into school curriculums. By educating children about the environment, we can help them to develop a sense of responsibility for the natural world and inspire them to protect it. Finally, we need to lead by example. We need to show others that sustainable living is possible and that it is worth the effort. By making sustainable choices in our own lives, we can inspire others to do the same. We need to demonstrate that sustainable living is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for our health, our wallets, and our communities. Our sense of connectedness with nature is crucial in inspiring us to protect the environment. Through education, community engagement, collaboration, and art, we can inspire that sense of connection and motivation in others. We need to recognize and celebrate the interconnectedness of the natural world and work together to create a sustainable future for ourselves and for future generations. We need to lead by example and demonstrate that sustainable living is not only possible but also necessary. Together, we can protect the web of life and ensure a healthy planet for all living beings.