As my time in the VetsWork program approaches closure I find myself in a reflective state. I am at a point where I am trying to quantify my experience and figure out what my next step should be. One of the most important lessons learned while working with the Forest Service is that this land and its resources belongs to all of us. Agencies like the Forest Service exist to manage, but it is up to all of us to ensure sustainability. Why? Why is sustainability so important? Well, to paraphrase a popular sentiment: the world doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to our children. Therein lies my desired path forward.
What does it mean to recognize that the world belongs to future generations more so than us? Well, I believe it puts us in the correct mind frame. It also enables us to create a personal framework for spreading this message, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. We best spread the message of resource sustainability by enjoying the pleasures those resources offer. When we enjoy something it becomes natural to share that enjoyment. Before you know it, you care about the continued existence of those resources. Perhaps your motivation for caring is selfish. Maybe you only care about the land because you want to continue to hunt on it. You want your children to hunt on it. Perhaps camping is your “buy in” to sustainability. The motivation isn’t as important as the end result. You are a soldier in the battle for sustainability all the same.
My time here has rekindled a personal love for the outdoors and our environment. I have also become increasingly aware of the importance of our natural environment and how its care directly touches on a myriad of life’s experiences. My hope for the future is to share my rediscovered passion with others and show them where their “buy in” for sustainability can be found.
Even those who wouldn’t usually identify as an outdoor type enjoy visiting the outdoors. These people find their buy in through the many destinations accessible by personal vehicle. Road side waterfalls like the ones found at Dry Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are a popular destination to those visiting the Nantahala. If you want a breathtaking vista from a mountain top, you can drive right up to Wayah Bald and experience a sight usually reserved for serious hikers. If camping is the passion you wish to pass down to future generations, then again, the Nantahala is the place for you. Here you can camp at one of the many primitive sites or pop your tent up adjacent to a shower. If recreational vehicles are your thing than you can find campsites here where you are surrounded by nothing but trees and RVs. Hiking trails are as abundant and varied as the wildlife.
While here I like to think I have played a part as a facilitator to the outdoors. I have worked hard during these last several months to maintain and improve some of the resources people use on this Forest. My personal hope for the future is that I can continue to educate people on the importance of sustainability. One major way I feel I can do this is by taking the outdoors, shining them up real nice and selling you your buy in.
Actually, I’m selling it to your kids, so take care of it.
“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”― Anonymous Greek Proverb