Written by Joshua Manzo, Outdoor Studies Human Impacts
Ever since I stepped foot in Alaska it feels like I’ve entered a new world. Alaska took some getting used to. With APU’s help the outdoors became my classroom. Growing up a city boy all I ever knew were concrete jungles. I could navigate through intersections but could not use a compass to save my life. In exploring the outdoors, I have built a stronger connection with nature. Through this style of education, I grew to understand this world around me.
My course Wildland Ecosystems & Human Impacts helped make my relationship with the outdoors organic.
For example, an outing at Glen Alps, Chugach State Park showed me the impact of invasive species on Alaska. These florae taught me the importance of retaining wildland biodiversity and showed me the responsibilities one must take to keep nature pristine.
A couple of miles and a mountain the other direction awaited a lesson by the Gandalf of Alaska trail building, Blaine Smith. There Blaine taught a lesson on sustainability where he spoke of its benefits for the land. Everything from wildlife to the water quality of Anchorage benefits from a sustainable design. As an artist, listening to Blaine motivated me to think of ways I can create sustainable work.
Towards the end of this semester, we left for Valdez to teach at a Leave No Trace conference. There I was able to hone my skills as an outdoor educator and learn from other people. Everyone has their own way of connecting with nature.
And I have come to understand mine.