Berit’s Climate Story

BeritI care about climate change because I want the future of Minnesota to be as beautiful, if not more beautiful than it is today.

What I love most about Minnesota is the natural beauty that is so accessible in the West Metro.  Biking is part of experiencing the natural resources that make my community so beautiful. As a child, I used to bike all around Minnetonka with my friends. We would go down to the general store, and buy an ice cream cone with the pocket change our parents gave us.  We would walk down to the lake to sit by the water to eat it. Biking was not only a fun pastime, it provided an outlet into nature, and it was also easy because of Minnesota’s amazing trail system.

I grew up in an environmentally conscious family, so preserving the place we call home, and the reality of climate change was not something I gave much thought to, it was just part of living.  When I was little my siblings would scold me for leaving fridge doors open or the water running. Of course this led to calling me a “water waster woo” which I knew I didn’t want to be.

I guess you could say that many of our family traditions were build around sustainable practices.

One early memory is of composting food in our backyard. After dinner each night we’d go out to the big black bin next to the fence and dump our scraps in. I thought it was awesome because I could put a banana peel into the bin and come back to a complete transformation, just a couple weeks later. It was a pretty great feeling, knowing that something I ate turned into something I could plant with, because of a simple action.

When I was 16, I was able to fuse my passion for biking on our trails with my family’s tradition of sustainably minded living, through the Student Conservation Association or SCA. My parents both worked at national parks when they were younger with SCA. Through SCA, youth from all over the country work at national parks or reserves to protect and conserve their natural beauty. It teaches kids the importance of active work on the environment instead of passive agreement that there should be work done to conserve.  

SCA seemed like the right challenge for me to take on as a sort of transition into adulthood in my family. I knew I would be surrounded by peers who were just as excited about the environment as I was. SCA was part of my dream of growing up so once I was old enough it seemed insane not to do it. When I was finally able to join this family tradition, I was accepted and sent to Georgia to work on soil conservation and building trails along the Chattahoochee River. Spending a month in nature further emphasized the fragility of its beauty with our presence. We had to be extremely careful to leave no trace wherever we went because we wanted the next hikers to see the same beauty we had seen. Seeing other kids my age who were just as passionate about enjoying nature helped to show me that there are active roles we can play even as high school students. Also, it was through this experience on trails far from my home, that I able to step back and see more clearly what was at stake with our changing climate in the places I love.  

What makes Minnesota home for me are our forests and lakes, and specifically the trails and bikeways which make nature in my community so accessible. I’m scared that if we don’t take action to protect our environmental community its beauty will not be preserved for future generations. My identity will always be grounded in my family traditions and my love for Minnesota, but as I head off to college and branch out into the world I will begin to build new traditions.  I know that caring about our environment and hoping that it will remain the same is not enough. We need to take action.

Like composting, I can see that taking steps in the right direction can stir the beginnings of real transformation. That is why tonight I’d like to make the pledge, that as a young person, I am dedicated to this issue and to share my knowledge I gain about climate change with others, I am pledging to act and to prompt others to do the same.

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