UMass Dartmouth, in partnership with the Jane Goodall Institute, selected essay contest winners at the elementary, middle school, high school and college levels to have dinner with Dr. Jane Goodall on the evening of April 7, prior to her public talk on campus. More than 400 essays were submitted from young people across southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island for consideration.
Students were asked to pen essays offering how they will take action to make the world a better place for people, animals and nature. The essay winners wrote poignant responses on their passion for sustainability, conservation, and nature. Topics ranged from living a car-free lifestyle to improving accessibility to clean water supplies for people around the world.
The essay winners are:
UMass Dartmouth senior textile design and fiber arts major Anna Maravalli
Anna, a native or Rowley, Massachusetts, believes she can have significant impact by making sustainability as the core focus of her work as an artist. Putting her words into action, Anna’s sitting hammock made of hemp canvas, hand woven multi-functional blanket bag of organic cotton, hemp fleece jacket, and hemp-soled eco-espadrilles and sneakers are currently on display at the New Bedford Art Museum as part of the UMass Dartmouth College of Visual & Performing Arts BFA Exhibition.
Excerpt from Anna’s essay:
“These minimalistic yet multi-functional designs encourage users to embrace environmental responsibility. The goal is to remind people to slow down, be present, get outside, be meditative, reflect upon solitude, and appreciate the gift of the natural world. To help others live a more mindful and sustainable lifestyle is my plan to help the world become a better place.”
Bristol Community College student Reid McKinney
Reid, a native of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, believes in the power of the bicycle. He has lived 31 years car-free and has never compromised my beliefs. Reid hopes his lifestyle can I hope to serve as an example to others to lessen dependency on fossil fuels.
Excerpt from Reid’s essay:
“Using my legs as an engine, I carry groceries, commute to work, and attend school. Aside from the financial and environmental benefits, it is enjoyable to ride a bicycle. I hope to serve as an example to my neighbors and friends. My lifestyle challenges their ingrained belief that car-free living is impossible or impractical.”
Seekonk High School student Rachel Crafford
Rachel believes in the lasting impacts of small acts. At college, she plans to double major in anthropology and environmental studies. The environment has always played an intrinsic role in who she is and what she does, and she can derive a strong influence to pursue a life of conservation from these activities. Education is key for Rachel in spreading the message of sustainability to all corners of the world.
Excerpt from Rachel’s essay:
“…if everyone were to embody the mentality that their singular efforts are just one piece of a larger whole, we will be able to experience a land where there are plenty of Zoboomafoos to leap around, plenty of crocodiles to learn about, plenty of woods to explore, mountains to climb, and birds to hear sing. And because this is a world that I want to live in, I am prepared to do all that I can to protect it.”
Bishop Stang High School student Matthew Wilson
Matthew, of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, thinks teaching is a very effective way to change people's views on different topics. Through opportunities at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural and the Green Briar Nature Center, he has developed a love for teaching younger children about the environment and animals.
Excerpt from Matthew’s essay:
“Teaching is a very effective way to change people's views on different topics, and I love teaching younger children about the environment and animals, and about how important it is that we take care of them so that they will stay around for a long time for future generations.”
Dartmouth Middle School student Logan Pianfetti
Logan wants to make the world a better place by giving animals and nature a voice. He believes science and technology can help solve some of the world's problems. Logan wants to be an engineer like his father. He hopes to make a drone that can watch and protect endangered animals. Logan will be a technological environmental activist.
Excerpt from Logan’s essay:
“I'm 13, the world has problems and I know that they are bigger than I am. But I also know that I will get older and someday my dreams have a chance to become reality. I believe that if we continue to learn about the world and work together when I get older I will be one of the people who helped to fix our planet.”
Ziskind School of Judaism (New Bedford) student Julia Rosenberg
Julia believes in the simple idea that the Earth is our only home so we need to take care of it. We must identify issues that need to be dealt so we can keep our home clean and safe for future generations. It is really a few simple steps every day that can make a big difference for Julia: reuse, reduce, and recycle.
Excerpt from Julia’s essay:
“What will I be doing? I’ll remember to turn off the lights, ride my bike, and I may even plant a tree. It is just these small things that we can do everyday that make a big difference. I know I can’t fix every problem but I can set an example so others can make the world a better place too.”
Sargent Carney Academy student Kiva Bank
The most important issue for Kiva is access to clean, fresh, drinkable water. It is essential for life, yet a major issue for many living things on Earth. Kiva is learning how to test water quality and conduct bacteria counts at a water treatment plant in Freetown, Massachusetts. They are teaching me how to test water quality, conduct. Kiva is also in the process of researching the causes of the Flint, Michigan water crisis and how to prevent it.
Excerpt from Kiva’s essay:
“I am extremely interested in making a difference in the world and I am particularly interested in learning how I can make clean water available for consumption throughout our all the villages and communities throughout the world.”
Ranger Elementary School (Tiverton, Rhode Island) student Emma Johnson
Emma is encouraging others to make small changes that can make a big difference. Her dream is to become a marine biologist. She was inspired by this career while living in Hawaii and being able to volunteer to help with the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals. Emma believes that if we can all commit to conserving and protecting the world, we can all reach our dreams.
Excerpt from Emma’s essay:
“Everyday small things today can change the world of tomorrow. Even though it will be years before I reach my dream to become a marine biologist, it doesn’t mean that I should wait to be active in helping the world become a better place. On my way to my dream, I am taking an active role in encouraging others to reuse, renew and recycle.”
World-renowned ethologist, conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Dr. Jane Goodall will visit UMass Dartmouth tomorrow, Thursday, April 7, 2016. Dr. Jane Goodall is best known for her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in what is now Tanzania beginning 55 years ago.