The Current: EPI's Newsletter Fall 2017 EPI Newsletter

The Current C onservation for the N ext G eneration • F all 2017 It Really Is All About DIVERSITY A variety of life is on display in this colorful coral reef - an ecosystem with the highest biodiversity on Earth. Born in California and raised in Mexico, Olivia grew up in a family of avid naturalists. She joined EPI on course as a high school student in Mexico, then volunteered as an intern in our Mexico Program, and has since worked as an instructor in our Mexico, Yellowstone, and Hawaii programs. C over story by O livia A ngell Not long after being introduced to EPI as a high school student and participating in a field course, I joined EPI as an intern. I put college on hold to get what people call “life experience” (a nice way of saying I didn’t want to be in a classroom anymore). I moved to La Paz, México, the “big city,” and I remember meeting the staff for the first time. During our first lunch together (tacos!), I remember thinking, “This is where I am supposed to be right now; this group of people is amazing!” I never quite understood what made this group so dynamic and engaging until I returned to school...after all, “life experience” is essential to an open mind, but academic experience is invaluable for exposure to new ideas. Over the course of my studies and interactions at school, I learned an invaluable lesson: I felt so comfortable, happy, and energized with that first group of EPI staff because (drumroll, please!) really is all about diversity. In life, on the level of whole species, diversity is the key to survival. If all of the organisms of a species are exactly the same and a change occurs that they are ill-equipped to handle, the whole species may well perish. However, if there is some variability among individuals in shape, size, behavior, etc., then maybe a few of the organisms will be able to deal with the changes. They will survive and carry the species forward. I believe that this is also true in our personal lives. Diversity is important – not just in humans (our looks, ethnicities, and backgrounds) but in how these things influence our ideas, points of view, interactions, and ideologies. If we do not think, explore, create, and share, we risk stagnation. This is where EPI came into my life (and hopefully into many others). As EPI grows, it evolves, as do we all. When I am instructing, I am constantly striving to make the experience for myself, the team, and our students one of learning, teaching, sharing, and supporting our unique selves. Teaching in this environment is not a static experience – the methods and information change with the needs of the individual or group and with current events or discoveries. Ignacio Estrada of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation once said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” I strongly believe that only through exposing ourselves and our students to a variety of situations, places, and opinions, can we evolve as humans to be knowledgeable, compassionate, and fair stewards of the diverse world we live in. Your support of local students, like Olivia once was, strengthens our diversity and means more young people gain the skills to make a difference in conservation. E C O L O G Y P R O J E C T I N T E R N AT I O N A L • W W W. E C O L O G Y P R O J E C T.O R G • 4 0 6 . 7 2 1 . 8 7 8 4