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Diversity Matters-Sidney Woodruff

Our country’s population is growing more and more diverse every single day. As a reflection of our society, we must strive to seek and understand the need in promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the natural resources field.

The natural resources field has always been a tight-knit community that can easily get separated from the public. Because of this, our field is hidden and recruitment among minority students is often low. It can feel isolating. There are a lot of factors that come into play with low recruitment, but overall, we should commit to creating an inclusive environment to allow students to freely explore the natural resources field, and hopefully stay to find a career. Expanding access to the outdoors and environmental education for underrepresented and minority groups is one way to achieve this goal. This is especially significant when speaking on the importance of national and state parks. These public parks allow the general public to have access to outdoor recreation and enjoyment. If you do image1not have access to private land to explore, this is where the importance of public parks comes in. Another way to promote diversity in the science field is to provide mentoring and hands-on experience to youth. This can be done through outdoor sports, hunting, hiking, and even environmental education. Many of us can remember back to one specific moment or idol where our interest in the environment was ignited. For me, it was Steve Irwin and his engaging love for wildlife. By providing these moments for youth, we can act as those idols to allow their love of science to flourish.

We should embrace our all of our differences because diversity is essential for quality and productive teams. We know the importance of biodiversity in the environment, so why not should we strive for it within our own lives? We all approach the world differently, and often, having these different experiences allow us to see things in a different way from someone next to us. We need these challenging and polar views to question ourselves and what we believe to be true. At the same time, a student connecting with similar students helps find community when you might not see people like yourself around you. While this push for diversity can be constructive, we must be careful to not take this as a burden of task or filling niches. Instead, we should focus on widening our doors for all students, regardless of identity. When we are inclusive, we all benefit.

 

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

— Maya Angelou

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