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Tomorrow’s eco-professionals bring much needed hope – and action

Newspaper Headlines Bad NewsWhen you work in an environmental field, you get used to the daily barrage or alarming news: dying whitebark pine…thinning Arctic ice…dwindling coastal wetlands, etc.  Despite the great work we do at Biohabitats to restore the Earth and inspire ecological stewardship, it can sometimes feel like the “doom and gloom” news ticker is constantly crawling along the office wall.

That’s why it was incredibly refreshing to put together an issue of Leaf Litter which focused on the education of tomorrow’s practitioners in ecological restoration, conservation planning, and regenerative design. Nearly everything I heard from the students and professors with whom I spoke while working on the issue gave me hope.

Biohabitats intern Nick Cloyd

Biohabitats intern Nick Cloyd

Al Unwin, who teaches restoration ecology at Canada’s Niagara College, said that  today’s students are more eager and willing than ever to take action on behalf of our environment. Students in Nathan Gauthier’s sustainability courses at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology in Rwanda are not just engineering, design, and environmental science majors; they’re education, business, and political science majors who recognize sustainability as linked to their future professions. Every year since 2005, a new group of leaders emerges from a unique, international masters program in Sweden, and they are already changing the world. Our own summer intern Nick Cloyd said to me, “The movement is happening, and I do have hope. That’s why I’m in this field.”

Take that, ticker.

If you, too, could use a healthy dose of hope, check out this issue of Leaf Litter and let me know what you think.

 

9 comments

  1. It’s nice to see the younger people actually caring about something. I liked the “healthy dose of hope” you offered, and look forward to hearing more about the movement to improve upon our current sustainability practices. xo

  2. Jennifer Mathis says:

    Three cheers for uplifting information in the world of sustainability! It’s so nice to read that in the midst of the regular “doom and gloom”, their are the energized, educated, and hopeful. More please.

  3. A. Jason Barto says:

    This is refreshing news, especially after hearing about those terrible Cornell Lacrosse players. Just got finished planting over 500 Willow stakes for a riparian restoration project. One of my fellow “Team Leaders” was a college intern who had help lead several similar projects. Great to see these students getting their feet wet and their hands muddy.

  4. Jen says:

    “…not just engineering, design, and environmental science majors; they’re education, business, and political science majors who recognize sustainability as linked to their future professions.” After so many years of abusing the environment, it is going to take all hands on deck to even attempt to turn the tide. Glad to see so many turning their attention toward this challenge.

  5. ellen says:

    What a refreshing perspective Amy! Great work.

  6. Christine says:

    Working in education and being around the young adults all day, I know they care, some of them have bigger hearts than we can imagine. They are becoming more aware daily. It is just up to us to continue feeding them the information necessary for them to take the next crucial steps in really making a difference. Thanks for the uplifting news!

  7. Matt Wiherle says:

    Wow, I needed that. Got to keep changing heads, the future is here, we are it , we are on our own. Thanks for the good news.

  8. Keith Nevison says:

    You’ve put together a fantastic piece this quarter for the Leaf Litter. Rarely do I take the time to read through multiple articles while staring at a screen. You managed to both keep my interest and give me (a sliver of) hope for the future of our field. Cheers!

  9. Amy Nelson says:

    Thanks for these comments. I recently read a piece by Steve Almond in the New York Times Magazine about the absurdity of our booming “Apocalypse Market” (http://nyti.ms/17rKRIS) and was struck by these words: “There’s a deep cynicism at work here, one that stands in stark contrast to the voices of even a generation ago. And this cynicism has, I fear, become the default setting of a culture that lurches about within the shadow of its own extinction yet lacks the moral imagination to change its destiny.” Students like those featured and mentioned in Leaf Litter do not lack this moral imagination, and they’re definitely not lurching about. Neither are the people with whom I work. There is hope. There has to be…right?

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