By Eden Cypher
Hello and welcome back to the CCA blog! Over the next ten weeks, the three University of Washington interns will be writing about their passion for the environment and experiences that have shaped their drive to educate the public on climate science.
To start off, my name is Eden Cypher and this June my student career will end and I’ll be entering the environmental field. I’m excited to join the work force with like-minded individuals who also want to make an impact on the public’s perception of climate, but I understand that not everyone has had the privilege of exploring the great outdoors. This is the main reason why my undergraduate education has centered around environmental studies and communication.
A few times every summer and winter, my family would make the three hour drive up to Lake Tahoe, California to ski, hike and swim. In the mornings, we’d take the dogs on long walks so they could run through the pine trees and chase after Steller’s Jays that they would never catch. In the sunny but frigid afternoons, we would drive out to Mount Judah and snow shoe through a foot of powdery snow to connect to parts of the famous Pacific Crest Trail. Catching our breath at the top of the mountain to only have it taken away by the panoramic views of peaks and valleys around us sparked my love of the environment.
As each year passed, I noticed small changes in my surroundings when we would go up to Tahoe. In the summers, you would hear the coyotes’ howls at night less and less. The snow would fall lighter and later every winter. Seeing my favorite landscape on the planet change before my eyes is how I realized my love of the environment and need to protect it.
I went through college pursuing Environmental Studies with the thought process that I was trying to save Earth because of this deep appreciation for the plants and animals that inhabited the planet. Watching people throw single-use coffee cups in trash cans, seeing all the cars on the road and hearing about proposals to build pipelines across the country had me questioning: how can so many people seem to not care about the environment at all?
It wasn’t until I was back in Lake Tahoe and cross country skiing with my dad, when my question was answered. As we stood in silence and listened to the drops of water melting from the snow on the trees and the hidden birds in them, my environmental privilege hit me. Of course, my connection to the environment comes from my frequent exposure to it! My family has had the means and desire to take me on long hikes, ski through snowstorms, and drive the miles out of the city to do so, whereas not everyone has these opportunities. With over half the world’s population living in urban areas, nature can be can seem unfamiliar and distant. Why care about the fate of your state’s flower if you’ve never even seen it?
Living sustainably may seem like a choice, but a strong connection to the natural environment is what drives people to protect the flora and fauna that has cultivated human development. As I grew up immersed in nature, I found my connection to the environment, and going forward I hope to help others find that connection as well.