||03 Mar 11
on Cleaning Up The Mess we present the second and final part of a guest
column by her Excellency Beatrice W Welters, US Ambassador to T&T, who,
using the American example, urges Trinbagonians to keep our country clean
and “sweet” for generations to come.
Beatrice W Welters
In a previous commentary, I
described how Americans cherish the natural beauty that abounds in our
country, and how government at the federal, state, and municipal levels
works to protect the natural environment through regulations and effective
natural resource management. Another key element of environmental protection
is citizen awareness and participation. The United States has a long and
storied history of private citizens acting to protect our country’s natural
wonders, from John Muir’s efforts to preserve America’s wilderness treasures
as national parks, to Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs for urban parks across
America, including my favourite, New York City’s Central Park.
Whether someone belongs to an
outdoors or hunting club, an environmental NGO, or anonymously picks up
litter along the beach, Americans know that each of us has a responsibility
to keep America clean.
I consider myself an outdoors person. Raised in the Catskill Mountains in
the state of New York, the outdoors was my playground, where I explored and
discovered the wonders of nature. As part of our commitment to helping young
people reach their fullest potential, my husband and I created Camp Dogwood
in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a place where urban youth from many
cities assemble in nature to learn about her beauty and fragility.
Our campers study the natural
environment and learn how to preserve natural resources. The camp utilises
its own garden not only for food, but as an outdoor classroom. Campers enjoy
nature walks while learning about the flora and different types of rocks and
animals native to the area. Thus, environmental education is not simply a
trendy topic for us, but the overriding culture of Camp Dogwood. Americans
have come to understand that they can, and must, protect the environment in
their daily lives. When one of my sons attended Maret School in Washington
DC, he and his classmates banded together in a concerted effort to ensure
that all teachers and students recycled.
The school drastically reduced its
waste output, including a 50 per cent reduction in cafeteria waste, and the
school saves thousands of dollars each year by using more efficient light
bulbs and air-conditioning systems. You see, even secondary students can
have a significant impact protecting our planet. When I am not in a business
suit attending to ambassadorial duties, you can find me enjoying the many
wonders of T&T. And just as it has become second nature for most Americans
to avoid littering, starting fires or polluting waterways, I urge
Trinbagonians, at every level, to vigilantly protect the natural wonders
with which this country has been blessed, from the sea and beaches to the
valleys and hills, so that T&T can stay sweet for generations to come. I
promise to do the same while I am lucky enough to live here.