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Ethan Couch

Sussex Academy, 12th grade

From my earliest memory, my favorite place to be has been outside in nature. Being outside has always been my happy place. When I was a young boy, my dad, who was always working hard for our family, asked me if I wanted to go fishing for the first time. I excitedly said “yes” and the next morning we were on our way. Although all of it was new to me, it felt like something I was born to do. My dad had a box of worms and insisted that I needed to put them on the hook myself. They wiggled all around, but eventually I was able to get them on the hook. I feel as if this taught me that in order to get what I wanted in life I couldn’t be afraid to get my hands dirty. 

Waiting for a fish to bite felt like an eternity, but I believe this taught me the patience that I needed in life and learning that I would have to wait for the right time to come in order for good to happen. Eventually, bubbles began to rise and my bobber started moving erratically all around. Then, BAM! My bobber went under. I began to reel in the small sunfish and finally it came into shore. I was nervous to touch the slimy and squirmy fish. Although I was frightened by the scaly beast, my dad would not touch it. He proceeded to give me the talk that every dad tells his son about how if I really wanted to do something, I could. He told me I could do whatever I put my mind to but, in order to achieve these goals, I would have to do it myself and I could not always rely on people to help me. I grabbed the fish and released it. I took the moment and observed everything that was happening around me, what the birds were doing, the noises the spillway was making as it dropped thousands of gallons of water down, and even what noises the leaves were making as they swayed through the air. Although my first fishing trip was not super event-ful I learned many lessons that I carry with me every day of my life. My dad’s speech was more than a moment; it was a philosophy to live by. It is something that I hold with me every step of the way. 

As I move into adulthood, I make decisions knowing that I will not be afraid to get my hands dirty. I will work hard for what I want, face challenges with patience, and I will never stop appreciating the moment and enjoying what is there while it is in front of me. My father helped to shape who I am as a person. I will take his valuable lessons with me as I begin my own journey. I plan on using what the great outdoors has taught me to not only achieve my goals in life but to also protect and advocate for the fish and wildlife in it. I plan to study environmental studies in college, then attend law school and acquire my Juris Doctor degree. Finally, I plan to become an environmental attorney and advocate for the better good of the ecosystems we drive by every day. This is something I know I was born to do. 

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