Approximately three years ago, I received a letter in the mail from George Mason University. I had no idea what was going to be inside the envelope. I opened it to see an invitation to this thing called the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. Only 250 students from across the country are allowed to participate in this hallowed event. Long story short, after many months of frustration, crying, fundraising, and rainy afternoons, I was able to pay the $1,925 needed to attend the conference. I was nominated as a result of my academic excellence and my interest in sustainability. Were it not for that letter, I would not be here today.
The conference brought together 250 like-minded high school students for a week of enrichment, expansion in our knowledge of environmental troubles and sustainability, amongst other things. The conference was June 23-28, 2013, just three days after my birthday! I was only one of four people that went from Ohio. This conference was a gateway that led to many new things in my life. It was a time for my first flight and my first visit to Washington, D.C. This conference solidified my wanting to participate in politics.
There were many field visits and speakers that were part of the conference. One of those speakers was the the director of the Bureau of Reclamation. I visited the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, participated in a discussion on the Klamath River Basin in Oregon and the disputes occurring between locals and the Native Americans. Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest that you tell your friends in high school about this conference. It has changed my life. It is what brought me here to Mason.