Giving Back to Get Ahead - Volunteer Follows Conservation Ethic to Big Cypress National Preserve
The Great Outdoors has always lured people for a variety of reasons. But more and more young people are heading back to places like Big Cypress because it’s the right thing to do. They want to give back to the environment while exploring possible careers in conservation.
Ben Watkins, an intern with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), recently arrived from Bend, Oregon to work with the SWAMP Education and Outreach programs.
As needs outpace budgets on America’s public lands, the efforts of SCA volunteers have become essential. Some 45,000 young people have volunteered through SCA since 1957, and former National Park Service Director Fran Mainella recently stated "we can’t do without SCA." Watkins, 26, hopes to make a meaningful contribution to the Big Cypress Swamp environment.
"As I come in contact with area sixth graders through our program," said Watkins, "I want to instill three things in them. What Big Cypress is, why it’s important, and why it’s important to them."
SCA members learn a ‘conservation ethic’ through their hands-on service, and it benefits both the land and the individual. The experience leads many of them to become lifelong stewards of the land, and 60% of SCA interns go on to successful careers in many areas of conservation.
The Student Conservation Association is dedicated to encouraging a new generation of conservation leaders, advancing the land ethic, and helping to conserve our nation’s natural and cultural resources. The organization places nearly 3,000 high school, college and graduate student members in the field each year, and they provide more than 1.5 million hours of conservation service in national parks, forests, and other public lands.