My father, a wildlife biologist for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, introduced me to nature, to a life outside enjoying the outdoors. I have been involved in hunting, fishing, and camping since before I can remember. I remember catching my first fish and I believe this memory sealed the deal for the type of career I wanted for my future.
My passion for the environment stayed with me as I entered high school, and through the guidance of my advisor Blake Berry, I joined the Future Farmers of America at Pendleton. My five years in the FFA has allowed me to share my passion with others and teach students about agriculture and the environment.
I was elected to serve as the State FFA secretary for the state of South Carolina in the year of 2014-2015. When my year of service ended I knew I wanted to continue to spread my passion. So I decided to attend the 2015 Natural Leaders Legacy Camp, after hearing about the experience of my sister the previous year.
I had never attended a leadership camp like the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp before. I had a great time and enjoyed everything from the awesome people to the information that was covered. One thing that set this camp apart from the others was the fact that older adults were not the ones providing the information. Instead, the various forms of training came from people who weren’t far from my age. Because I had the chance to spend the week with so many other young leaders, the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp was a networking opportunity that I know I can rely on five, ten, twenty years down the road, and I am thankful for that!
While at the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp, one of our sessions hit on the topic of different ways to get kids outside enjoying and exploring nature. This stuck with me. After talking with a fellow Natural Leader Perri Davis, I realized that I wanted to contribute to my community by getting our youth outdoors like my father did for me as a kid.
I have recently started a program called Let’s Get Outdoors and our mission is to expose as many youth to the benefits of the outdoors as possible! My vision for this program is to establish camps on different aspects of the environment for our youth. It amazes me how much time has changed from when I was a kid to now, but the importance of that connection is still the same.
The first fishing day camp for Let’s Get Outdoors was held on August 8th and was called the Kids Classic (for children 12 and under). The plan was not to only let the kids catch some fish, but also to show those who do not spend much time in the outdoors the joys and memories it can hold. If there is one thing I have learned through my years in the FFA is that in the year 2050 the world’s population is said to double and we will need everyone in order to support the world. It seems far off but if we do not get our youth engaged now it will be too late when we need them most. This is another reason why I believe it is crucial to expose them to the outdoors and nature at a very early age.
Without the chance to attend the Natural Leaders Legacy Camp I may have never found my current path. It is such a great opportunity for young adults to express their passions and share their ideas with others. I encourage you today to find a way to get the kids in your community outdoors. Whether it’s taking them fishing, taking them on a hiking or camping trip, or even taking them hunting I guarantee you that those experiences will be the ones that will stay with them for a lifetime, and you may spark the Natural Leader in them!
It was an honor to be selected to attend the 2015 Natural Leaders Legacy camp and I will encourage everyone I can to attend in the upcoming years.