Posted: Saturday, June 16, 2012 7:50:46 PM
Like all high school students nowadays, I spend too much time on the Internet, exploring the wonders of cats on Youtube instead of the beauty of nature. As I aged, the magic of nature seemed to end; what could you do outside that you couldn’t inside with new technology like the Wii U? However, that all changed one summer, when I interned at a local environmental research institute. Though I first believed nature to be dull, my summer was spent creating memories, learning more about my local environment, and proving my old mindset wrong.
At the institute, I researched the impact of tides on the balance of nutrients in a constructed wetland. For two weeks, I visited a local artificial wetland and collected samples of the water at different tide levels. Following data collection, I analyzed my samples and determined the vital role wetlands in general play in maintaining a safe ecosystem. I found out their effects extend beyond rivers and wetlands. Communities dependent on these rivers and wetlands as a source of food and profit need wetlands to continue to thrive. With guidance from my mentors and fellow staff members, I began to understand how nature is a delicate balance that all organisms, including humans, impact and are impacted by.
In addition to my research, I also participated in field work with other staff members of the institute. From relaxing boat trips down the river to struggling through dense forests of phragmites (reed), I spent as much time within the wilderness as I did analyzing samples in the lab. On these trips, I saw the adverse effects of pollution, which dramatically changed the local plant and animal life. However, I also noticed the amazing ability of these organisms to adapt to their conditions, from crabs living in the cracks of wooden pillars to birds nesting on surrounding buildings. I realized then that nature was constantly evolving, despite all the blows it suffered. While humans were creating buildings and technology meant to endure, nature was more flexible and adaptive, making it ironically more durable than all of what we as people established. Looking at nature in this new light, I was, and continue to be, very appreciative and stunned.
My time at the environment research institute was inspiring, because I not only learned a great deal about research, but also experienced the strength of nature first hand. It’s persistence in surviving all the pollution and change humans have implemented is truly amazing. Organizations like my internship all feature people who desire to help the environment in its struggles and to conserve its beauty and functionality. Now, I hold similar concerns and awe regarding nature. More of the youth needs to be exposed to intimate encounters with nature. Today, I continue to be inspired by nature, researching nanotechnology-based filters and other methods to alleviate the harmful pollution from humans.
It took just one summer for me to learn that in nature, the magic never ends.