SCA Member Jeremy Taitano on The North Face "Never Stop" blog
This is a post from The North Face Neverstopexploring blog. SCA Member Jeremy Taitano has been recognized for outstanding commitment to the environment by The North Face Never Stop national campaign.
After spending his childhood spearfishing, diving and subsequently falling in love with the natural landscape in Saipan, Jeremy Taitano moved to the U.S. mainland, where he felt lost and out of place. Searching for adventure, balance and a purpose, Jeremy began spending his time in the mountains and on the trails. Jeremy’s passion for the outdoors quickly transformed into activism when he joined the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and has since become a National Park Service Academy mentor and crew leader. Here, Jeremy shares with us how he Never Stops.
When I moved to Saipan, I was seven years old. When I was that young, I never conceptualized things like environmental protectionism. I didn’t know that the reefs that I swam amongst were bound to be my greatest inspiration for conservation, and that the ocean’s gentle ebb and ﬂow would teach me to respect the power of the natural world.
I wouldn’t have known a love for the outdoors without Saipan. The island’s land and seascape are my reference point for conservationism. I grew up experiencing the effects of climate change first hand. I always cite the island’s bleached reefs as my call to arms in the name of environmental stewardship. Seeing such a beautiful and essential part of the ocean’s ecosystem die sparked in me a passion and a determination to protect the planet so that future generations will know the majesty of the outdoors.
When I was 13, I moved back to the U.S. mainland, which was very hard for me. I had to make new friends and experience winter for the first time in years. The lack of palm trees and the seemingly endless land made me feel so far from home, but I found solace in things that are unique to the mainland. When I started working with the Student Conservation Association, I started to feel like I found a community I could connect with. Trail work and backpacking were new ways to interact with nature, which I ended up loving.
As a leader in the Student Conservation Association, I always have Saipan and its reefs in the back of my mind. When I teach youth to cut trails, or suggest making conservation a part of everyday life, part of me is doing it because I know that a healthier planet means a healthier Saipan.
I will never stop missing Saipan. It was in Saipan that I first knew environmental stewardship. I discovered stewardship through love, excitement, and through fear. I knew it in the jitters I got putting on my fins, and slipping into the lagoon where my father, my brother, and I would dive to catch fish; and from the ice that hit my veins as the shapes of sharks appeared just yards ahead of me. Exploring the outdoors is what grounds me; it’s what reminds me where I come from. Living in urban environments, it becomes easy to forget that the food that is bought in grocery stores, and the water that comes from faucets is a product of our planet.
We have to remind ourselves that we too come from the planet and are responsible for its health. Getting back to nature always humbles me, makes me feel small, and restarts my passion for outdoor conservation. I live for the moments when I can hike up a ridge, sit by a pond or enjoy a sunset. Those moments remind me why I pledged to dedicate my life to conservation. My hope is that one day, conservationism will not be a hobby for few, but a way of life for many. Until that day comes, I will continue to search for ways to contribute to a better planet, a better Saipan and a better global environmental outlook.