Emily Le

2019-2020 Live Deliberately Essay Contest

Emily Le, 17
Honorable Mention, 17-18 Age Group
Irvine, CA

The melodious crooning of birds and the fading chirps of crickets are my natural alarm clocks when I spend my Sunday mornings tucked away in the woods. As I peer outside my tent, I catch sight of my fellow Venturing Crew members stumbling out of their tents with glazed eyes and sleepy smiles, a little groggy but ready to face the day. The prospect of adventure is my caffeine, and I could not spend my day outdoors, honing my survival and teamwork skills, with a better group of individuals.

In the wake of our technologically-driven society, it becomes easy for many influential leaders and society to prioritize newfound advancements and sudden monetary gain over the natural resources that have persisted slowly yet steadily throughout our history. As we find our individual purposes amongst towering skyscrapers and the buzz of the bustling city life, we forget our roots amongst the towering trees and the buzz of the creatures that scurry across the forest floor. As we hear of magnificent forests burning to the ground and innocent sea creatures choked to death, we continue on our way with pity in our hearts but more pertinent issues that flood our capacity of concern. Bills. Hunger. Politics. War. Out of sight, out of mind.

As we are disconnected from our roots, we lose empathy for Mother Nature’s cries for help as her icebergs disappear under rising oceans, choked off by the heat of the changing climate under a stifling cloud of carbon dioxide. Many studies have shown the improved mental wellbeing and physical health of those who are connected with their natural surroundings. However as urgent personal issues arise in the lives of individuals across the globe, it becomes a difficult task to find the time and energy to reach out to the healing qualities of nature.

Exposure and education are what society needs now more than ever to live intentionally in a communal attempt to preserve our natural legacies, present in the luscious trees of the Amazon Rainforest or down the rolling ripples of the Congo River. As a veteran of the scouting community, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive opportunities as a Venturing Crew officer to coordinate conservancy-based community service projects in the local open preserve or even host camps in biodiverse areas, encouraging scouts to follow environmentally friendly camping methods – an arduous task in a crew of 70+ scouts. I witnessed a budding appreciation in my fellow crew members, much like the sprouts we had planted a year earlier that flourished into sturdy saplings, for this aspect of our complex world which they may not have fully considered in the past in both the organic beauty of nature as well as the societal responsibility a scout embodies. Even as we come from all walks of life and share different passions, our time spent on Sunday mornings working towards our goal of conservation of our natural resources helps us conserve the bonds we’ve formed as a community.

I hope for myself and other budding leaders to expand on our passion for education and raising awareness, in order for our individual community efforts to broaden into a societal goal, by guiding community projects to encourage people to contribute to the upkeep of nature in the context of their busy lives. Whether we are able to spend Sunday mornings working on hiking trail preservation or simply an hour tending to a preschool garden, this act of responsibility brings us all closer to each other as well as to the precious relevance of nature to our welfare.

No longer should we be experiencing the endless beauty of nature through our laptop’s screensaver or a dusty calendar tucked away in the corner, reading “old deeds” to remind ourselves of what could’ve been. Our natural legacy no longer lies in our beratement of past actions and “referring to our ancestors” to save ourselves but rather in a present determination as a whole to protect our slowly decaying world from our own disregard. Our natural legacy is in our empathy for Mother Nature. As we work to preserve our natural legacies, we experience it in its full glory in a symbiotic relationship with nature. We will leave a flourishing world so that one day our children too can lead happy, healthy lives amongst the crooning birds and the chirping crickets.