SEVEN Peel students who explored the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the US recently returned from the Alcoa Foundation-funded NatureBridge program with a shared appreciation for the need to take action on climate change.
The students gained a wealth of knowledge working in groups to explore environmental issues in Olympic National Park in Washington or Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
Stories of wild animal sightings while kayaking along pristine lakes, hiking to the top of a mountain peak to see snow for the first time, wandering through native forests and sharing stories by camp fire with new friends were just some of the highlights.
Frederick Irwin Anglican School student Ben Roots (16) said the Shenandoah trip had not only created a unique experience for him and fellow students but changed his habits at home.
“I’ve become a lot more conservative with what I used to throw away and how much rubbish I produce,’’ he said.
“I also have a new interest in the environment and take every opportunity I can to get outdoors and learn about what amazing places are out there.”
Mandurah Baptist College student Luke Price (16) gained a world of confidence in both his knowledge of environment conservation and day to day life.
“The most significant thing I learned on this expedition was that as a society, we need to be more careful in our actions,’’ he said.
“Whether in nature or not, our actions have an impact on the environment in some way.
“The NatureBridge experience has also given me a massive confidence boost.
“I’m more comfortable in large groups and I find it a lot easier to talk to new people.
“I’m happier and more motivated than ever.”
The Alcoa Foundation has awarded 228 scholarships since the inaugural NatureBridge expedition in 2014.