Jen's MEM Journey

What’s YOUR Inspiration?
by Jennifer Weiss -- April 3rd, 2012

Each of us has a different story, a different passion, and a different inspiration for protecting the environment. What inspired you?

As my two years at the Nicholas School start to draw to a close and my thoughts are consumed with finishing up my Master’s Project and my two Ethics classes, one recurring theme keeps running through my head.  What gives each of us the inspiration to do the work that we do?   

For some people the answer to this question is easy.  Some can point to a specific place that inspires them to do conservation work.  Some fondly remember their childhood when they played outside and felt connected with nature.  Some might even point to a specific person or mentor that inspired their environmental commitment.

For me, it is not that easy.  For me, it is a wonderful convergence of life events that has taken me here to the Nicholas School – to this wonderful place where I’ve spent my last two years.

I grew up in Vermont playing in a creek that ran behind my house.  I remember coming home covered in mud and bug bites, anxious to tell my mom about the fish I saw or the tadpoles that were swimming about.  I would sometimes ride about two miles to school on my bike because I didn’t want to be confined by the walls of the bus on a beautiful spring morning.  In the wintertime, my sister and I would dig tunnels and mazes through the mounds of snow that towered over our heads.

As I grew older, the childhood games changed, we moved to Colorado, and I became interested in all the social events that become part of our lives in middle and high school:  after-school sports, hanging out with friends, and hours upon hours of conversations on the phone.  Playing outside had taken a backseat.  But every summer my family would head up to Northern Michigan and spend as many weeks as we could on the beautiful sandy shores of Crystal Lake.  The name says it all – when you are out in the middle of the lake, you can literally see the logs and rocks on the bottom.  From the moment I woke up in the morning (unless we were experiencing one of Michigan’s fabulous thunderstorms), I would be outside – swimming, sailing, playing tennis, or just lounging on the beach.  I was soaking in the beauty of my surroundings – although I’m certain I didn’t realize it at the time.

After I had kids, things changed again.  We don’t have a creek that runs through our backyard and I won’t let my kids bike to school because of the traffic, but on weekends we try to get out and enjoy our surroundings.  Some days we go to a local park, other days we just enjoy our back yard.  And each summer, each glorious summer, we enjoy the still crystal waters of Crystal Lake.  We do all these things because I want my kids to be able to enjoy all of the wonders of nature that I enjoyed as a child. I want them to find their own environmental inspiration.

These are the things that inspire my environmental work.  This is how I got here.  But each of us has a different story, a different passion, and a different inspiration for protecting the environment.  What inspired you?

Three of my inspirations: My daughters and beautiful Crystal Lake.

Three of my inspirations: My daughters and beautiful Crystal Lake.

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