Youth Profile in Action

Volunteerism is more than just a word. It’s more than just a term passed around the school hallways. To me, volunteerism means a life long passion for something you love. I found my passion at an early age when I’d spend my time outside with nature. My sister and I would jokingly pretend to be deer in the woods, or gallivant around our yard, immersed in nature.  It was those childhood memories that promoted me to begin volunteering towards a cause I enjoy.

After living in Tokyo for several years, I experienced first hand environmental destruction such as air pollution and disaster (tsunamis and earthquakes). It was difficult to sit back and do nothing, but at my age (at the time), I felt helpless. But not all hope was lost. My family and I volunteered for several organizations throughout Tokyo such as the P-Walk, helping to benefit orphaned children and various clean-up projects scattered throughout Japan.

But my true passion fell into place when I moved to Georgia. When I was beginning my 8th grade year, almost four years ago, I realized the environment was my calling. Entering high school gave me the chance to broaden my horizons and learn about the various organizations throughout Atlanta that benefitted the environment. I stumbled upon the Autry Mill Nature Center. This was more than the name presumes, rather, it was a place of learning, caring, giving back, and being with life’s treasures—nature.

My weekends soon filled up with various nature center activities such as helping out with the reptile exhibit, or merely cleaning up the visitors center. It didn’t feel like much to begin with, but then I realized I was pursing a passion that was long since implanted into my heart.  I fell in love with the staff there after the jokes filled the fresh air. I was amazed at the generosity of Ben Team, the director at Autry Mill. But, if there was one thing I took away from this experience the most, it’d be the heart-felt feeling I’d get every time I’d volunteer.

Volunteering didn’t mean doing it because I felt colleges would look at me more closely, volunteering is about doing the right thing. This is another reason Ansley Colby and I took on our “My Idea” grant through Grad Nation. Inside, we felt the term “volunteerism” could mean more than spending a weekend assisting to the needs of others, we knew it meant a life long passion. After creating our “My Idea” grant idea, we knew we had discovered a project that could continue for years to come, hopefully spreading the idea of a life long passion.

Though I believe I’ve accomplished a bit for my young age, I feel my passion is just beginning. There are still many avenues I wish to explore in the coming years.  I owe a big thank you to the people who have gotten me to this point in my life and to those who have truly shared valuable lessons with me that I hope to continue to acquire into adulthood.