The Young Environmentalist
I'm looking for a place to share my thoughts. I found Mother Nature Network through a social networking site called Tumblr, and I've enjoyed reading green news stories ever since. You see, when you're twenty years old, you're in a strange spot. Half of the university is out partying and having fun. The other half is studying their lives into oblivion. Then you've got me. I'm pretty sure of who I am, but I'm still trying to figure out just where I belong.
I'm an environmental studies and journalism dual major, and I have a minor in anthrozoology, so I'm pretty busy in school. I used to spend my free days waitressing, but I've since lost that job. I spent a long time milling about the house after that; but then I thought: hey, why don't I do something that'll make me feel like I'm fighting for the planet?
Not protests, no. I've done those before. I'm from Buffalo, New York, and they just aren't very effective here. They're either too impassioned, with a lack of factual backing; or they lack the support they need to take strides in making a difference.
So, I started volunteering at the local wildlife rehab center. I'm not really supposed to talk about the details, so I won't. But I will talk about how happy it makes me. How I witnessed my first hawk-re-release, and how incredible that was.
He had been shot down in August. The wildlife center took great care in treating him. And now, he was ready to be freed.
We took him over to a local school that doubles as a bird sanctuary. Children and parents all gathered onto the field with us. They were elementary school kids; they had a lot of energy and asked a lot of question. Maybe they were a little annoying--just maybe. But, I couldn't wipe this stupid grin off of my face. These little kids were about to see something that they would never forget.
The wildlife vet took the hawk out of the carrier and into her arms. She wore thick, tear resistant gloves, evidence that what she told the children was true: yes, hawk talons are very sharp. She spoke very briefly to the children about the bird. And then, without any great announcement or precipice, threw him up into the air.
And this enormous, majestic bird took back to the skies he once knew and loved.
And the children ran and laughed and danced. For but a moment, they were elated.
Then, most of them turned to their parents and asked: "Can we go now?"
The entire time, I recalled my own childhood, and my experiences with wildlife.
As I returned up the hill with a fellow volunteer, a little girl pushed past us waving her arms and shouting: "RAHHH I'm a rabid hawk!!! Rahhhhhh!!!"
I don't know why she decided to be rabid, but maybe that's the thing about childhood. Maybe we only get it when we're there.
I smiled. For the first time, I felt as though I had a sense of place in this world.
I'm figuring myself out, one step at a time.
I want to make a difference, and I think this is it--taking up arms against society and saying: hey, we're fighting back.