How It Started With Me – An Essay by Sarah Park


Sarah was in SCA’s Boston Community Program (Harbor Island Ambassadors) this summer and with this essay, she won 2nd place in the Boston Youth Essay Contest.

Sarah, Left, with SCA Members

By Sarah Park

I promise to konservieren sie, conservi, and behoud. It does not matter what language conservation is said in, it needs to be done, and it is time for the human population to clean up the messes we have created. Most people they are just one and their actions do not have a big effect. If everyone starts to think that way their numbers will add up. I refuse to be one of those numbers.

We need to stop taking this world for granted because we are destroying it. We must ensure future generations do not have to suffer for our generation’s actions. We need to start conserving and preserving the land, sky, and waters, which provide life.

A beach party does not just mean volleyball, bonfires, and Marco polo, but phragmites, invasive marine life, and pollution. I cannot depend on, or expect others to start making a difference; it is up to me to start the movement.

As a little girl, I never worried about my future, and I only cared about the outfit I was going to wear to my next play date. But as a young adult working as an Island Ambassador for Boston Harbor Islands national park area, I have learned, researched and experienced all the little things one person can do to make one big difference.

My work has been mostly on Boston Harbor Islands so that would be where most of my help would maintain. I will continue to make a difference by keeping my eye on the main invasive plants I studied, including; phragmites, bittersweet, and pepper weed.

Even when I am no longer working as an Island Ambassador, I will volunteer pulling the invasive plants at Stewardship Saturdays and volunteering as much as I could. According to the instructions I’ve learned, when I see signs indicating the birth of new invasive species I will be sure to report it.

I will not stop at plants and vines. I will also keep watch for invasive marine life. I will know what to look for because I have learned how to distinguish crabs and kelps, and I have studied characteristics of the invasive species. I have collected a lot of data, and will be sure to share my information with others so they can use it to make changes to further their research and better the islands. Even though I will not be the one to take care of all the invasive species on the Boston Harbor Islands, my efforts and my attention will help make for cleaner and rehabilitated islands.


Helping to preserve and conserve the islands is definitely a main priority, but I know I do not need to physically be on Thompson, Bumpkin, or Lovells Island, for example, to make a difference. I was lectured on decomposition, recycling, and I will be sure to start my own small composting pile from my leftover foods. Then I will take the good fertilizer from my waste to plant either non-invasive plants or my own vegetable garden. I have always known that recycling is good but up until recently I did not know the extent of how helpful it is. I will continue to recycle and I will do as much of it as I possibly can.

Transportation is an easy way to help conserve, I will continue to do as much biking, walking and rollerblading to travel from place to place. If a car is necessary, I believe carpooling is a good choice, especially with a car that runs on more efficient energy like a hybrid. I have learned that just because I am not the one driving the car does not mean I cannot help.

I will buy from my local markets, because buying local does not support the big factories and it saves transportation energy, not to mention the produce is fresher.

Little things like making sure the water does not run when it is not being used are easy yet effective — I will continue to shut off the running water when I brush my teeth, and I will take shorter showers. I will turn off the lights when I leave a room, or when there is available sunlight. I will be sure to never over use the air conditioning and heat, and only do laundry when necessary. These little adjustments are the least I can do to make a difference.

I have learned an incredible amount, ranging from the bittersweet vines, to the catbirds in the sky, to the values of decomposition. The information I have obtained through my work experience makes me want to conserve even more, but I am not naive and I cannot do this alone. Awareness and knowledge is contagious, and I can make a difference by starting that chain reaction. The most important thing I can do to make a difference is share my knowledge. I may not be a professor or a scientist but I definitely know enough to make others more aware of the importance of conserving. I will tell family and friends of things they can do to help, and I will post my ideas and thoughts on websites and blogs to inform my community. I will make sure my school library and town hall are aware of and are promoting conservation.

We are so used to luxuries that we take everything for granted and now it is our job to save the world that has given us life. We use up all the resources and only leave waste; it is time to take responsibility for our negligence and our carelessness. I know this project is bigger than I am, but it connects us all, and together we can do this. I will continue to make a difference using everything that was taught to me, but with help, we can accomplishment more than we think we can. We will achieve new knowledge, new spirits and most importantly, a new world. It is hard to show how I am going to continue to make a difference through words — all I can say is I promesa, belofte, and versprechung, to conserve. It does not matter what language promise is said in, it will be kept. In time, we will fix all the little messes we have created, and the human population will make one big difference, that all started with me.