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Finding nature in Wisconsin

Earlier this week, I found myself sitting at a talk by James Edward Mills, a self-proclaimed adventure journalist.I had no idea what an adventure journalist was, in fact, I was only at the talk because my class was hosting him and I was required to be there. Mills began by talking about his love of nature, and how it inspired him to eventually begin a career in journalism.

Mills, like myself, is from the Bay Area, Calif., an area with many gorgeous state parks, which is close to national parks, like Yosemite Valley. He was talking about these places, which I recognized in the images he showed in his slide show. While he was talking about the times he spent in these beautiful places, I was struck by the fact that I live next to these parks, but I do not visit them.

I live in the middle of three state parks in California: Henry Cowell, Fall Creek and Big Basin, two of which are a five minute walk from my house. Maybe its because I grew up spoiled by these natural riches, but I can not remember the last time I hiked the trails in these parks.

Moving from California to Beloit, Wis., is an interesting transition. When you have grown up with trees as tall as skyscrapers, the trees in Beloit seem small. Another student from California told me that Beloit’s trees are not real trees. Everyone gets homesick for their hometowns basic landmarks, but I never thought about how I could possibly miss trees.

Mills talked about searching for nature that surrounds us, and it really got me thinking. It is really easy to get caught up in the crappy weather and ignore the beauties that Wisconsin has to offer. There are almost 60 state parks in Wisconsin, and I did not know a single one until I looked them up. I have gone to Beloit for almost two years, and I have never been to a nearby state ark.

For me, this was a huge wake up call. As students, it is really easy to stay on campus and never explore the state that we live in. It is hard to see the nature that surrounds us when we are so isolated from the rest of the world. It sounds morbid, but many of these parks do not have much time left.

President Donald Trump and his administration have made it clear that they do not value the Environment or the Park system with their proposed budget cuts. In the next four years, it would not surprise me if we started to see some of these places disappear, and many of us would not even notice because, overall, it will not affect us.

If we do not spend time in our parks, it will become easier to ignore that they are disappearing.

Mills opened my eyes to how the environment I grew up in shaped me. For many, the environment in Wisconsin shaped them, and we, as students, need to be more involved in protecting it. We need to branch out more and try to get involved in the environment that surrounds us. Nature is somewhere where we can go to get away from the pressures that we face every day at Beloit College, it can be a place of peace and tranquility. As for me, I am going to do my best to search for trees, and appreciate my parks more in the future.

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