Blurring the Boundaries

Despite their unifying passion for nature and all that it offers, the lifestyles of environmentalists and outdoorsmen are very unique to each other. C Magazine interviews Paly students and profiles both roles to turn the stereotype between the public’s perception of them and their individual realities on their sides.

Blurring the Boundaries

The environmentalist and the outdoorsman: two similar yet contrasting roles in that they both engage with and depend on the outdoors but partake in different activities concerning it. Environmentalists work towards preserving the health of the planet  by thinking of creative ways to reuse materials, working to stop using harmful products or simply reducing their waste. In contrast, outdoorsmen think of the outdoors as a source of relaxation and entertainment, partaking in activities such as hunting and fishing.

Despite the differences between them, these two roles are able to coexist. As an increasing sense of environmental welfare has spread through the years, stricter laws have been put in place to preserve nature. Today, these regulations allow one to enjoy the rush of outdoor activities — including hunting, rock climbing and fishing — while simultaneously preserving the environment.

Pockets of wondrous nature still exist in Silicon Valley, making it the perfect playground for those in love with the outdoors, such as PALY junior Will Moragne. Moragne has spent almost his entire life acquainted with the outdoors through fishing, hunting or simply enjoying what nature has to offer. These activities are uncommon for someone living in an urban environment such as Palo Alto, but he finds them to be an outlet for all of the stress that surrounds living in the heart of Silicon Valley.

“I spend more time than I probably realize in the outdoors,” said Moragne. “Outside of sports seasons, I really enjoy being able to fish and even hunt after school some days. For many people where we live, that wouldn’t even cross their mind.”

Moragne loves the adrenaline rush that comes from these outdoor activities; he constantly seeks out new places  in order to experience the excitement that these activities have to offer.

“The environment means everything to me because the outdoors is a big part of who I am,” said Moragne. “I am truly passionate for the outdoors.”

Many people have a strong belief that those who hunt or fish are mindlessly harming the environment without second thought. Moragne refutes this belief by expressing how deeply he cares for the environment and how his actions are, in fact, the doing the opposite of harm.

“Most people don’t realize, but active hunters and fisherman are a huge part to conservation.” he said. “I like to do a lot of land management, especially for waterfowl.”

With his deep love of nature and all that it has to offer, Moragne tries to maintain a level of preservation, doing his part in keeping the environment from being irreversibly destroyed or ruined.

“People have a backwards idea on what active outdoorsmen do for the environment,” he said. “I enjoy the outdoors so much, it’s why I give back in many conservational ways.”

Morgane has struck a balance between his love for nature and the importance of preserving it by simultaneously caring for the environment and exercising the wondrous activities it has to offer.

For some, a love for the environment can blossom from a simple passion and encouraging surroundings. This was the case for Palo Alto High School senior Evan Baldonado, whose passion was sparked by his love of fish after he won a goldfish at a carnival.

In seventh grade, Baldonado created a website, AquariumKids.com, which teaches fishkeepers to be responsible. “I advocate for environmentally-responsible fish keeping,” he said. “I speak out against releasing pet fish as they can become invasive species and I also write about why fish keepers should care about the environment.”

Releasing domesticated animals can have a negative impact on the environment as they are non-native, and often do not have natural predators to regulate their population size. Consequently, they are free to prey on native animals, which are not equipped with natural defenses against these animals. In addition, non-native animals may introduce diseases that wipe out native populations and disturb the environment.

Along with advocating against the release of pets into the wild, Baldonado has also been involved in a variety of activities helping the ecosystem. “I interned with the City of Palo Alto through the Get Involved Foundation to create a webpage about pollution and storm drains,” Baldonado said. “I also led a Service Day activity for stenciling storm drains.” Additionally, he interns at the Stanford Ocean Biogeochemistry Lab, where he helps research phytoplankton and climate change.

At Paly, he has participated in a variety of environmental clubs, and is currently president of The Roots Club, which aids students in creating projects that have positive effects on the environment.

Additionally, he has collaborated with other organizations to host awareness events and set up areas where students can donate and recycle used batteries.

“Through Roots Club, we have set up a battery recycling box in the student center,” he said. He is also preparing to partake in No Straw November, a movement where students refrain from using straws for the month, as they are detrimental to the environment and are leading contributors to ocean pollution.

Although manmade objects often have negative consequences on the environment, what impact do human actions, such as hunting and fishing, have on the ecosystem? “I speak out against those who do not hunt or fish responsibly, but I do not have qualms with the others,” Baldonado said. He personally refrains from hunting, but believes that when regulated responsibly, it can be done without many lasting effects on wildlife.

Through his continuous involvement in environmental efforts, Baldonado has developed a clear sense of his ideal society. “My ultimate goal is for our society to be as sustainable as possible.” he said.

Baldonado strives everyday to achieve his mission of bettering the environment and leaving a positive impact on the earth.