Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Volunteering For a Better Future

Name: Matthew Duff
From: Bangor, Maine (ME)
Votes: 0

For a Better Future

Throughout high school, I always knew that I cared deeply for the environment.
So deeply, in fact, that I began to volunteer at my town’s local
Parks and Recreation center. What exactly does volunteering at the
Parks and Rec have to do with the environment, you may ask? Well, as
a volunteer, I was heavily involved with the community garden
program. The purpose of this program was to introduce sustainable,
green gardening practices to the public in an effort to encourage
local, fresh, sustainable agriculture. My responsibilities centered
on spreading the word of what we were trying to accomplish. I went
around to local schools and talked with teachers about starting local
school gardens and making it more of a point to teach young kids
about sustainable gardening practices.

This task, without a doubt, was very challenging at times, due to the
average person’s tendency to ignore environmental concerns. I was
forced to appeal to people who I knew I had nothing in common with.
But in doing this, I was able to form bonds with many people. I was
able to get some people who had never even been to a local farmers
market to try out gardening for themselves, and that, in itself, made
me feel like a champion. I learned that just because you may not
agree with someone or have the same lifestyle as them, it does not
mean that you cannot learn from them, respect them, and maybe even
try to teach them a thing or two.

Although I miss my high school volunteering, I have recently been introduced
to the kind of change you can make outside of the confines of high
school. I am in my first year at the University of Southern Maine,
studying Environmental Science and Policy. After I get my degree, I
hope to join the Green Corps., an organization that is dedicated to
training young environmentalists and having them travel the country
in an attempt to tackle the major environmental problems plaguing the
globe through demonstrations and organization. In my humble opinion,
I cannot think of a better place to fight for our planet, alongside
men and women who care just as deeply as I.

It is impossible to know if my volunteering, whether it be in the past or the volunteering I wish
to do in the future, will be remembered years from now. However, I
hope that some of the small things that I have taught people will
stick with them. If the only difference I made was inspiring a child
to stand up in defense of our environment, then I think I would be
just fine with that. If all I accomplished was convincing some
teenage jock that maybe being interested in gardening and
sustainability can in fact be cool, then that will be enough. For
small impacts combine to form revolutionary change.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".