by Anna Felton, ’99, ’00
Diana Lopez is a good example of SCA’s mission in action -- the Houston native has spent the past two school years working year-round with SCA’s Conservation Leadership Corps (CLC) and her summers on national crews.
Through work trips and camping trips in the Houston area, Diana learned what to expect on a national SCA high school crew, such as what types of tools she would use for trail improvement. Diana’s Houston projects include working in the Houston Arboretum and planting trees near the Hobby Airport.
Anna: What is your most memorable experience from working on your assorted SCA crews?
Diana: Doing something for a good cause with people from all over the States and knowing they want to do the same thing.
For the past two summers Diana Lopez has left Houston and worked in two very different parts of the country. She has really enjoyed the opportunity to work and improve these amazing areas with SCA. First, she traveled to Minnesota and worked in Voyageurs National Park. Her crew worked on improving a trail, building canoe racks, and diverting a trail around a beaver dam. At first Diana was not sure what to expect when she traveled to Minnesota to work on her first national crew. Now, when she sees a tent platform she knows how much work, sweat and time went into building it.
This summer she spent four weeks in Denali National Park and Preserve where she worked on the Triple Lake Trail by improving the incline to the visitor center. While working in Alaska, Diana learned about permafrost and the delicate tundra environment around her. Her crew had to be careful removing soil and vegetation, because of the delicate soil. When it rained, the ground became slippery from the ice and they would modify their working techniques to minimize disturbance of the ground. Some of her most memorable experiences involved seeing all her hard work appreciated. When she worked in Denali, many hikers thanked her crew for their hard work. People also asked how their children could get involved with the SCA.
Anna: What made you continue your involvement through SCA?
Diana: My crew leaders have given me the motivation and aspiration to be more like them and continue to have young people involved with protecting our national parks.
In Houston, Diana has introduced environmental measures to her family and friends. She encourages her parents and friends to use re-usable shopping bags and to recycle old cellphones and computers. One of Diana’s favorite courses at her school was her environmental science class where she worked on projects to “green up” her school. There is a wooded section behind her school that she helped to maintain so that her entire school community could take advantage of it.
Anna: What does your family think of all the time you’ve spent with SCA?
Diana: They are proud that I’m doing something to make a difference in our national parks and community but also bringing back home what I’ve learned as well.
Anna: How have you changed what you do day to day from what you’ve learned through SCA?
Diana: For one, I have my own recycling bin but also decisions about what products to purchase at the store and I bring my own bags.
Diana will move to Austin, TX this fall to start her freshman year at St. Edwards University. She is looking forward to joining their environmental club as well as discovering more opportunities to hike and be outside. Diana is also already thinking about what she would like to do next summer and how she can find another exciting summer opportunity that will keep her outside and involved in conservation, social work and education.
Photos: top - Diana in Alaska with the Kantishna Hills in the background; bottom - from left: Katherine Dickinson, Joanna Blaszczak and Diana, far right, in Alaska