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Our Best Holiday Treasure – the Energy of Youth

December 24, 2012

Nature’s Secrets by Meg Lowman

The new Nature Research Center in downtown Raleigh, NC is a world-first in many ways – cutting-edge scientists working in glass labs where the public can see their activities, unprecedented global outreach of science discoveries through the multimedia SECU Daily Planet theater, myriad citizen science participatory programs for the public, and lots of hands-on, interactive exhibits that teach visitors “how we know” (not just “what we know”) about science. Another first of the NRC is its youth leadership. Whereas most institutions operate with a Board of Directors consisting of business leaders and philanthropists, the NRC has a leadership team of teenagers. The Teen Advisory Board (TAB) serve as a voice of the Museum, providing insights to programming that will inspire the next generation of scientists. They help select speakers and content of Science Cafes, offer advice on videos and other educational media, and provide the NRC Director with ideas for future programming. In addition, these 20 teens represent 13 high schools in the Triangle, providing diverse perspectives on science; in return, they learn about board governance, preparing them to become future leaders of local boards.

E.O. Wilson meets a member of the Teen Advisory Board

E.O. Wilson meets a member of the Teen Advisory Board

On December 13, these teens hosted Professor E.O. Wilson, one of the world’s leading biologists, who spoke at the NRC and directed his comments specifically to teens. As part of their preparations for this unique opportunity, the teens discussed environmental priorities and were asked, “If you had a magic wand, what environmental challenge would you solve in the next decade?” As a “holiday gift” to our readers, here are a few of their answers, which will reassure all of us that the world is in good hands with our next generation:

  1. Kabir from Chapel Hill High School – “deforestation, specifically of the Amazon rain forest.”
  2. Rishi from Jordan High School – “dinosaur extinction or global warming.”
  3. Chichi from Green Hope High School – “How do I choose just one? Save the trees, the fisheries, tragedy of the commons? I would want to do it all!”
  4. Charles from East Chapel Hill – “Probably the increase in greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, because that is the root of ocean acidification and global warming, and could have devastating effects on the future.”
  5. Hannah from Saint Mary’s School – “I would solve the increasing problem of destruction of the natural environment in various parts of the world.”
  6. Jennifer from Athens Drive High School – “I would use my magical wand to prevent all future oil spills. My magic power would make sure people drilled very safely and not in nature reserves.”
  7. Sierra from Garner Senior High School – “If I had a magic wand, an environmental issue I would solve in the next decade would be global warming; because even though global warming has not ended, some people have stopped caring…. so why not try to fix it!”
  8. Doug from Enloe High School – “I would solve the issue of excessive population growth, since it places the most stress on biodiversity.”
  9. Taruni from Panther Creek High School – “If I had a magic wand, I would solve the environmental issues of waste and pollution by altering production methods to be more environmentally friendly as well as making products more sustainable and green to help reduce our carbon footprint without severely altering our modern lifestyle.”
  10. Meghana from Green Hope High School – “Lack of clean fresh water resources – both by cleaning available water and also getting clean water to people in places that lack it.”
  11. Kiley from Enloe High School – “I would fix the destruction of habitats around the world so that species could be preserved and discoveries of new ones could be made.”
  12. Mensheng from Cary Academy – “I would stop the spread of invasive species. They take the niches of other native species and upset the ecosystem.”
  13. Thomas, home-schooled – “I’d make every form of transportation electric.”
  14. Peter from Enloe High School – “Educating the entire world about things such as sustainable use, biodiversity loss, pollution, etc.”

On behalf of Nature’s Secrets column and the Teen Advisory Board at the NRC, may your holidays be full of nature!

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