Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Incoming Reflection: Perhaps This "Environment" Thing is Important...VERY IMPORTANT!

What did I think about the environment and the University Colloquium class before coming to FGCU? Read on to find out:

Perhaps surprisingly, I had not heard about the course University Colloquium until I attended the initial orientation for Florida Gulf Coast University. At this gathering, it was revealed to me that every student attending the university had to take this course in order to graduate, and the person explaining this then played a video on a projector. The video showed students at various local nature parks. I thought to myself sarcastically, "oh brother, that sounds terrific!" I did a little more research into it, however, and decided that it would be best to take the course now, rather than later. "Get it out of the way," I told myself.

Perhaps it was the abysmal environmental camp I took part in the summer after 5th grade that turned me off to any interest in the environment. There was also this socially ingrained image that I had of environmentalists being hippies and weirdos. A few years ago, I took a course called Bugs and People at the University of Florida, and that piqued my interest in nature somewhat, mostly in regards to agriculture, but essentially up until taking this course I have thought about the environment about as much as the non-sentient flora and fauna of nature has ever thought about me.

Not to say that I haven't showed awe at the Grand Canyon when I visited it some time ago. I have also been through the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest in North Carolina and breathed in the clean air of the vibrant green foliage. But these were just places to visit I thought. Here in Florida nature generally involves mosquitoes, humidity, and sunburn. Only in recent times have I even been able to tolerate the beach! Furthermore, I recycle. I am aware of hybrid cars. I use water and electricity sparingly. I thought I was doing my part.

My problem was that I had not been thinking about the impact that people were having on the environment. The progress of cities seemed as much a natural phenomenon as nature itself, and I must admit that I figured that there was still enough land out there to develop for centuries to come. But my new, enlightened education was about to begin with University Colloquium.

Before the course commenced, I read A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith, and thought, "wow, what a great story," and of course I felt bad for all of the Native Americans who were killed and were losing their land. The last chapters of the book also deal with the fact that all of the buildings and cultivation of the land that occurred as Florida grew had caused animals to go extinct and threw the whole ecosystem out of whack. That did not sound very cool!

In the few weeks of this University Colloquium course, I have been convinced thoroughly enough about the poor trajectory of the environment to consider possibly working towards a degree in environmental engineering after I have received my current degree in accounting. I will say that I have always wanted to do extraordinary things. Certain events in my life have caused me to pursue accounting, which I find interesting and fulfilling, but I would just be another "bean-counter." No glory...perhaps infamy! I see many possibilities in the field of environmental engineering. I could be the person that figures out the solution for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or helping to avert food shortages. Even if I didn't become famous for my work, I think I would feel I was doing peaceful, heroic work that will ultimately benefit mankind, myself, and oh yeah...the environment.

I would also like to mention that I have recently been reading adventure books by Clive Cussler which take place in ocean and sea settings. I also enjoy watching the travel channel and learning about South American countries and the rain forest. I hope that this course will bring me adventure and help me learn about possibilities for future endeavors. If I do not follow through with being an environmental engineer, you can rest assured that I will be a very environmentally conscious accountant!

Some tree-huggers I can live with! Courtesy of Jones Soda Company.

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