POLACCA, Ariz. - Hopi High School students received a dose of environmental information when Barbara Hawke, executive director of the Arizona Wilderness Coalition (AWC), spoke to media and English classes Jan. 6 at Hopi High School.
AWC is a statewide non-profit dedicated to preserving Arizona's 90 wilderness areas. AWC was founded in 1979.
"These are important places in nature that are primitive and the impact of man has been light. People can go to wilderness for hiking, horseback riding or restoring themselves," Hawke said.
She added teenagers interested in the environment can work on trail maintenance, taking out invasive plants or trees or helping with communications by writing reports or producing videos.
"We need increased stewardship to restore public areas," Hawke said.
The U.S. Forest Service Bureau of Land Management or the National Park Service may manage the public areas. She said these organizations are required by law to include input from the public. As a result, youth can get involved by writing or speaking to give their opinions on how these wilderness areas should be protected.
She praised Hopi media student Greta Quotskuyva for writing about the environment in AWC's recent newsletter.
"I was so happy that we had that nice contribution from Greta," she said.
"When I think of preserving the environment, I think of preserving native plants that are going extinct, and restoring the earth's system," Quotskuyva wrote. "Today the earth's system isn't doing so well. The earth's system is starting to be threatened by global warming, freshwater depletion, biodiversity reduction, and a hole in the ozone layer. These are problems we are causing.
"Wild and undeveloped places are sources of meaning and artifacts from long ago. These places could be sites where Native American tribes were migrating through. From these places, youth and adults gain knowledge.
"In Hopi culture, the people are supposed to be stewards of the land. We're taking care of the land for our creator. It's our responsibility to keep it clean and not polluted. Also, we shouldn't be digging in the ground for the coal, oil, metals, gems, and the like, because the ground is not ours. We have to respect this land. It's important to preserve our environment for ourselves and the future youth."
During her visit, Hawke showed the students a video
that Tucson teenagers made about Saguaro National Park in southeastern Arizona.
Hawke became interested in the environment because her father taught earth sciences.
"He would take us out to rivers where we would see otters and birds," she recalled.
She worked for an environmental organization in Colorado before going to work for AWC about one year ago.
"It's a great program with great people," she said. "Arizona has such great diversity ranging from the Grand Canyon to the Sonoran Desert to the Hopi mesas."
Hawke said her environmental heroes include Gloria Flora, Terry Tempest Williams and Craig Childs. Flora suffered assaults and vandalism to her trucks when she spoke out on the need to preserve wild places. Williams and Childs are environmental writers.
Hawke said wilderness destinations bring thousands of dollars into communities because people come from all over the world to see pristine places whether they are hiking, horseback riding or birding.
She was delighted to be at Hopi High School because she enjoys working with students and communities.
Hawke started her professional career in advertising before working her way into the environmental world.
More information is available at AWC's Facebook page or www.Azwild.org.
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