By Christina Wong, ’01, ’02
My passion and commitment to SCA comes from a personal place, because it was SCA that exposed me to the great outdoors, the importance of a healthy environment and the value of community.
As an inner-city youth, growing up in the heart of urban San Francisco, I always wondered why my surroundings never matched the natural landscapes I saw splashed across calendars, magazines and television sets. My forests were towering skyscrapers and the only stars I knew were streetlights. I felt disconnected from the land. I possessed no camping, hiking or outdoor experience and was unaware of the importance of nature.
Then, in my junior year of high school I became a member of SCA’s Urban Youth Corps where for two years I participated in dozens of preservation projects in Bay Area parks, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada and Alaska’s Denali National Park. I removed harmful alien plant species, planted thousands of willows and native Bay Area flora, and built several new trails. Never would I have imagined myself living in the backcountry of Alaska, seeing grizzly bears or standing a few feet from active glaciers, yet these adventures are now mine because of SCA.
SCA made me a “realistic optimist” by showing me the feasibility of making positive changes in the world while simultaneously revealing its requirements, such as hard-work, dedication, setbacks and teamwork.
I believe we cannot build a sustainable society without the help of all communities, and currently there is a significant disparity in environmental awareness and activism among urban youth and minorities. Realizing that, I co-founded the Scientific Scholars Achievement Program (SSAP) at Occidental College on Los Angeles, where I recently received a B.A. in Biology. SSAP helps underrepresented students from public high schools successfully pursue their scientific passions. In 2006, I was awarded two community action awards from the city and county of Los Angeles and the California State Legislature for SSAP.
As an SCA Board member, I look forward to giving back to the organization that offered so much to me.
Christina Wong, became SCA’s newest Board member in October.