|Courtney speaks at the TeenNat Gallery Opening event on 8/7/2015|
There are so many different types of people in this world. People of different size, different shape, different races and ethnicities. There are boys, girls, men, and women; but of all of these contrasting traits, there is one thing that each and every person here has in common; one thing that has pushed all of us together tonight: the love and appreciation of nature.
|"All Clear!" TeenNat Gallery photo by Courtney McDowell|
For the past five weeks I, alongside twenty-five other teenagers, have had the opportunity to spend an abundance of time loving and appreciating nature first-hand here at Pepperwood Preserve as a part of the TeenNat program. We have spent countless hours hiking through the redwood trees, collecting real data that is used for actual science, and capturing fun and exciting moments that we have shared with both each other, and the beautiful creatures that nature holds within its midst. We have learned, through practice, how to identify a multitude of organisms, how to navigate using an assortment of tools, and, in my opinion one of the most fun of our endeavors, how to make a giant square in the woods. With each and every new activity that we participated in, our knowledge of the natural world grew with acceleration.
Each and every day I went home with a deeper understanding of the beautiful world that we have been blessed to occupy.
|"Abduction" TeenNat Gallery photo by Kai Anderson|
I have learned so much here this summer which I can use both now and in the future.
|"Buzzfeed" TeenNat Gallery photo by Lydia Davis|
For making sure that all of us got here on time and for all of your hard work, I thank our parents. We could not have come close to such an incredible experience had it not been for you. Your willingness and excitement to hear all about the new things that we learn has driven us to learn even more.
For pushing us to the next level of understanding and making us think harder than ever before, I thank Nicole and Jesse. You have been such amazing role models this summer, and I appreciate everything that you have taught each and every one of us. I look forward to returning next year as a TeenNat leader to be able to work alongside you in spreading knowledge to my generation.
For all of the behind the scenes work that I know goes on, but I am not aware of, I thank the entire Pepperwood staff. If it was not for you, I’m sure that the TeenNat program could not exist; and so, I thank you for all of your hard work.
|"Cloaked Sky" TeenNat Gallery photo by Isamar Alamilla|
I have made so many memories here just simply being in nature; and for making that possible, I thank all of you.
I know that as TeenNat continues, more and more of my peers will benefit in the same ways that I have. It does not matter the differences that exist within and between people; because here at Pepperwood, we are given the opportunity to set aside these disparities and simply love and appreciate nature together.
To learn more about TeenNat, click here. The 2016 TeenNat internship runs from July 5th through August 12th. Applications are due by April 1st, 2016. Click the link above to download an application.