Courtney Hayes, of Frederick, recently volunteered with the national Student Conservation Association, which provides high school and college students with opportunities to promote environmental stewardship through community service.
What sparked your interest in environmental conservation? Since I was a child, I loved nature and wanted to protect its beauty. When I was 10 years old, I would write fake littering tickets to my friends when I would see them throw trash anywhere than in a trash can. I have always had an appreciation for the beautiful environment that God created for us and felt that there were already so many ugly things in the world that it was our responsibility to conserve this natural beauty that was meant for us to enjoy and utilize for natural resources.
How did you first get involved with the Student Conservation Association? I first got involved with the SCA through one of my college professors. He was telling us about an internship in the Great Dismal Swamp in Suffolk, Virginia. When I expressed interest in the position, I put in my application for the internship and then learned that it was through the Student Conservation Association.
I was informed that I would go to the SCA training camp for a week in Pennsylvania and meet other SCA members and then go to Suffolk to begin my internship.
Are you considering pursuing environmental conservation as a career? Conservation has become a part of my life and not simply a job. I believe the common misconception is that if a student participates in the SCA and does not end up landing a job in the conservation field, they feel like a failure. That could not be further from the truth.
The SCA is more than just trying to land a job; it is about changing the way you look at your environment and realizing that its protection is the responsibility of every individual. This life-changing concept can be practiced whether you work in a national park or on Wall Street.