Redesigning Our Future - How Do You Show Your Love for Nature?

Heather White - Keynote Speaker - Environmental Summit 2015
 By Kayla Blackburn

As the 2015 Redesigning Our Future: National Environmental Summit commenced on July 7th, campers had the opportunity to listen to this year's phenomenal keynote speaker, Heather White. Heather is a nationally recognized expert on environmental law, and she currently holds a position as the Executive Director of the EWG (Environmental Working Group). She has been involved with Congress, as well as in many magazines like The New York Times.

"I 'Heart' Nature"


During her speech on how she reached her level of success and achievement, Heather reasoned her interest in the environmental field with her love of science, and, namely, nature. Having spent her whole life admiring magnificent landscapes in the many places she has called home, Heather White showed her love for nature in many excursions, including the climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Heather went on to refer to the campers as "America's greatest natural resource." So, following in Heather's footsteps, how do we environmentally-interested teenagers show our love for nature?

Danny Coburn from the "Freedom, Fear, and Fouled Resources Camp Group" is Focused on the Messages Shared by Heather White. 

Makayla Utt, a member of the Go Ahead: Change your Mind focus group and the President of the North Stokes High School's FFA Chapter in Danbury, NC, is active in a monthly day of beautification and planting around her school's campus. The FFA also grows plants, which then get placed in contests at the State Fair. Efforts have been made to assist janitors in picking up trash, as well.

When asked if there was one tip Makayla could share with her fellow campers, she said that in order to run a successful organization, "You have to have good communication and teamwork."

Emma Vtipil is in the Invasive Alien Plants and Animals: Friend or Foe to the Environment? focus group. She is the co-president of the Environmental Club at Athens Drive High School in Cary, NC. Each week, the group recycles around their campus. This club also encourages healthy eating with educational segments at meetings, as well as with a notoriously known "Veggie Week," where students compete to see who can eat primarily vegetables for the longest time for the week.

Campus clean-ups and days of beautification are also common for this organization to host. Funding via a grant has also allowed the Environmental Club and classes to begin building an area for an outdoor classroom to increase environmental involvement.

Anya Quenon is in the Freedom, Fear, and Fouled Resources focus group, and she is from Cary, NC. She is involved in both recycling and compost efforts at her school, the North Carolina School of Math and Science. She is also a member of the Envirothon Club, where she and a team of 4 other students learn about all aspects of the environment and compete with their knowledge.

Anya's school encourages eating locally grown produce, as well as numerous environmental science-based classes, too.

Macayla Upright goes to Greystone High School in Salisbury, NC and is a member of the focus group A Backbone for Conservation. She has been focused on helping the environment for many years. As a girl scout, she was able to set up a recycling center a local church that lasted for over two years.

Her school was recently built, and many enrolled students have united in efforts to give back to the area around their school. They are pushing to start an Environmental Club in the upcoming school year.

Environmental Excellence

All of the students mentioned above are role models in environmental conservation, and their outstanding efforts undoubtedly show love towards nature and our environment.

In her opening speech, keynote speaker Heather White emphasized that a major component of building oneself is to learn from everyone that person has the opportunity to meet, while making the most of every moment. All of us could learn this lesson from these exceptional environmentalists.


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