Protecting wilderness for future generations
Tilden Preparatory School
School Contact Information
Zephania C, Tilden Preparatory School, Berkeley
I'm a senior at Tilden Prep in Berkeley. For 5 summers, I've gone on canoeing and backpacking trips in the wilderness.
Your Environmental Story
Share an experience you've had as a child or young adult that shaped your environmental values or behaviors (time in nature, play, a school project, a teacher, a mentor?) What inspired you to care?
Growing up in Berkeley, I've always been surrounded by a culture of environmentalism. My family and my neighbors have a big, shared backyard and when I was little I would go out to the compost bin in my backyard and play with the worms. Another source of inspiration is my Dad, who works for Rainforest Action Network protecting endangered forests. So, thinking about the environment is just part of my growing up. I've also had the experiences of taking wilderness trips with Camp Widjiwagon, month-long canoe trips in northern Minnesota and the Quetico Park in Canada. These experiences really shape my values because they show me how much there is to lose and inspire my desire to protect plants, animals and the wilderness for future generations to enjoy. We saw 55 bald eagles in 5 days! The parks and renewal of endangered species like bald eagles give me hope for the future.
How do you make an environmental difference at your school or in your community? What motivated you to take action or change your behaviors?
I do a lot of small things every day, like recycling. I was taught the 4Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot - in elementary school. In middle school, I helped set-up a compost system and a vegetable garden. For me, the threat of dwindling ecosystems and our way of life motivates me to reduce my environmental impacts. Threats to the rainforests, oceans, the climate and the atmosphere. If everyone does a little bit, it can go a long way to making a difference. That's the hope for the future - if we all change our impact in little ways, and big ways.
Did any experiences or teachers at school influence your environmental values or behaviors? If Yes, what & why? If No, what and why not?
In fifth grade, my class went to Marin Headlands and learned about endangered species and what preserving them entailed. For me, it underlined the importance of protecting these ecosystems and made me much more aware that the beauty of nature can be destroyed if we don't do anything differently. In the 6th grade, we spent a week at Live Power Farm, which showed us an alternative approach to environmentalism because the farm doesn't use any fossil fuel - it uses animal power. It opened my eyes to a different way that people can live and help the environment.
What would you most like to share with other students?
I think that it's important for people to gain the self-awareness about the impacts of their actions, like buying stuff and throwing it away and our consumer lifestyle. I think these are important issues and people should pay attention, even though it doesn't seem pressing in many Americans' every day lives and is easy for some to ignore.
What do you hope to do next? How do you stay inspired?
My Dad and his work keep me inspired because I hear of what a difference he and other activists make in stopping deforestation. My desire to preserve the natural world also keeps me going - seeing a hummingbird in the garden inspires me, or an aspen grove - it's beautiful! I also love to take photographs - of people and nature. In college I'd like to get involved with environmental clubs and actually take more classes in environmental studies. I'd like to lead wilderness trips some day and inspire other kids to care about nature!