Culture, conservation and Zion: Reflecting on a little more than a walk in the park
Like the polychromatic vibrancy of a stained glass window, my memory is a lens colored by the wild of my youth. Who would I, Kiki Serantes, be today if not for those Alaskan winters and Washington springs, those mountains, waterways and coniferous trees?
We often forget the crucial impact that nature and our wilderness areas have on molding our social and self identities. Culture and natural landscapes — the wild — work to define each other in a symbiotic relationship. As Zion’s Cultural Resources intern with the Student Conservation Association and the National Park Service Academy, I’ve come to recognize how essential it is for humankind to remember this forgotten relationship. Only in rekindling our connection with nature may we hope to create a conservation future enjoyable by all walks of life.
The Beginning: We’re not in Kansas anymore
A Living Landscape
“I kind of have this theory that people don’t care about what they don’t know about,” Russ Cash, the project leader, said. “If we can get people to understand what’s here and what we protect, then they may end up caring about it a little bit more and actually be more proactive in helping protect these areas.”
The Story Unfolding
The Fight Continues
To get our community caring about our parks and wilderness areas, we must provide ample opportunity to experience said spaces. But, with visitation increasing, so too increases the potential for damage to those areas, such as through vandalism and graffiti. This solidifies, for me, the necessity in banding together as a society for conservation efforts. It may take one person to ruin something like a rock art panel through graffiti, but it also only takes one person to tell them to stop and prevent the damage. Conserving our parks is a responsibility belonging to each and every one of us. In the future, I hope to continue rekindling the connection found in culture, nature and identity. Whether I’m using my degree in Political Science and Journalism to advocate from inside the legislative system and to the public, or I’m writing about and sharing my wilderness experiences to instill a personal connection with the land in my friends and family, this internship has shown me that conservation will definitely continue to be a part of my life.
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