Why I’m Here: Protecting My Roots
By Patrick Mangan, American Forests
For most of my life, I have lived in the Northern Virginia area. As a kid, I went on numerous camping and hiking trips, either as a Boy Scout or with family and friends. Each trip gave me a chance to escape the suburbs and see nature in a unique way.
As I got older, I was lucky enough to travel to different countries as part of a tour of Europe with my high school band. Each country brought something new, whether it was the massive Bavarian Alps in Germany or a quaint countryside in France. I was able to experience different landscapes then what I was used to back home. However, while each trip brought its own unique imagery, my experience backpacking through Philmont Scout Ranch shines the brightest.
Philmont Scout Ranch is large, rugged, mountainous ranch spanning more than 140,000 acres near Cimarron, N.M. Scouts backpack across the ranch, with small base camps in between. I went on 12-day trek through the most rugged yet beautiful terrain — the soaring mountains, lush valleys, and pristine forest surrounded me wherever I went. With this trip I gained a much deeper appreciation for the natural world.
After returning from Philmont, my perception of the environment was totally altered. I would walk around Arlington and begin to notice the changes in the hiking paths I once frequented. Trees were coming back slower, changing colors faster or blooming later. In addition to this, new construction was popping up in areas where there used to be parks and woods.
Whenever I see this this I am saddened by the stark changes. The places I used to play as a kid are now becoming restaurants or town houses. When I learned about American Forests, I thought it would be a great way for me combine my interest in multimedia with my love of nature. During my time at American Forests, I hope I can use my talents to help protect places I value most.
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