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Winners for U.S. Embassy Kolonia Virtual Essay Competition Commemorating the 244th U.S
June 30, 2020

Erlickson Jano 1st Place Winner: Virtual Essay Competition Commemorating the 244th U.S. Independence Day
Theme: THEME: What role does everyone have when it comes to conserving the environment? What can you and your community do and why is it important?

Growing up as a Pohnpeian, my father always told me “piletik me kin aude pihl lap,” which in English translates to “small bodies of water create bigger streams”. While this proverb holds a very special meaning to me, I realized its significance regarding collectively conserving our environment and flowing together as a community. Today, I will address the steps we can take to environmental conservation through roles of awareness, acknowledgment, and action that are essential to the flow of the community.

Daily lifestyles drawn by awareness is important to communities that aspire to become better. Over the years, the urgency of climate change has always represented a grave and imminent threat to our island community in terms of changes in seasonal temperature and sea-level rise. Pohnpei has been doing a great job in promoting environmental awareness through outreach programs (marathons, fundraisers, contests, school visits, etc…). By actively participating in these activities, we are effectively playing our role in environmental awareness, and I’m hoping other individuals are learning as much as I am as it encourages the young leaders we are becoming.

Once a problem has been identified, it is necessary to progress through a phase of acknowledgment that something significant will happen if a solution is being developed for the problem. There are those who are genuinely passionate for maintaining environmental conservation; meanwhile, apathy has been a growing concern for the rest. Often, individuals tend to become blindsided by the devastating effects that climate change has on our islands and/or neglect the steps necessary to prevent it, thus creating a far greater problem affecting generations to come.  In order to grow as a community, we all must fully accept the current issue facing the community and respond accordingly. Some examples may include researching and gathering data and information as well as actively formulating and engaging in discussion topics and events. By being informed and educated on the topic, we gain a renewed sense of acceptance that prepare us to act.

Everyone plays an important role to maintaining a sustainable environment. Like awareness and acknowledgment, the action phase intertwines and can take on in various forms. After signing the ban of single-use plastic containers and bags, President Panuelo further said in an article that it was possible to be environmentally conscious while still retaining sensitivity to the conveniences appreciated by the community. In other words, whether it be through taking a shower or having a family picnic, there is always a better approach to doing so while keeping the environmental future of the community in mind. While leaders perform their roles on implementing laws and providing us with community essentials (trash bins, purified water, etc.…) individuals can practice various daily habits like replacing plastic bottles with water jugs, limiting water usage, practicing proper waste disposal, etc.…

Everyone has an important role in working together for the betterment of our community. Like a river, I believe I am a part of my community as much as they are a part of me.   

Isabella Sipos 2nd Place Winner: Virtual Essay Competition Commemorating the 244th U.S. Independence Day
Theme: THEME: What role does everyone have when it comes to conserving the environment? What can you and your community do and why is it important?

When it comes to conserving and protecting the environment, I am all in, and everyone else should be too. Our environment provides a home for all living things. It allows us to fill our craving mouths, and to live satisfying lives. From our fulfilling crops in the fertile soil, to the slimy seaweed in the depths of our oceans we must be dedicated to preserving our environment, because without a healthy and maintained home, life won’t be easy. We are in control of our future, and we must act upon solving the problems that we’ve neglected to solve.

Every human being has an important role of looking after the environment that we are fortunate enough to have. We must constantly keep our environment in the best condition. A few easy and simple ways to achieve this may be to start community cleanup projects, educate those who may not know the causes and effects of an unhealthy environment, and to use social media in a great way to spread knowledge. Although social media is sometimes looked at as a negative platform, it can be used beneficially for environmental causes if you make the effort to spread awareness, educate, and inspire in an entertaining way.

I have established platforms that include my personal life, along with political, societal, and environmental problems that I am passionate about. With a YouTube channel having almost 3,000 subscribers and more than 340,000 views, I have a duty and a privilege of not only to entertain the amazing people who follow me using the natural beauty of Micronesia as a backdrop, but to educate them on the importance and reality of the environment that we live in, and how we must participate in preserving it. One of my videos titled: “Cruising through the wrecks, reefs, and rivers of Pohnpei” depicts the fringing reef, a wrecked vessel, and the mangrove forest with a message urging people not to litter. Links to that video and another with narration and visuals of human impacts harmful to our environment are found here: https://youtu.be/AKCLd5qwMfY https://youtu.be/p4POZTx_oXE?t=215 

By keeping our environment healthy, featuring it in a visually pleasing way, and encouraging others not to pollute, we will be lucky enough to prepare it for the next generation, and our future children or grandchildren. Along with showing a beautiful environment, we can convey information on the continuation of saving our earth. For without love and passion for the environment, we won’t have a “home”.

Sophia Bacalando 3rd Place Winner: Virtual Essay Competition Commemorating the 244th U.S. Independence Day
Theme: THEME: What role does everyone have when it comes to conserving the environment? What can you and your community do and why is it important?

Conservation is the key to preserving, restoring, and protecting our ecosystem. Conserving the environment means preventing waste. Littering, environmental destruction, pollution, and overconsumption are examples of waste. Reduce, reuse, and recycle are the “three R’s” of sustainability that make it a priority to prevent waste and conserve natural resources.

We can protect the environment and conserve resources by promoting diversity, sustaining the ecosystem, and protecting wildlife. A study by the Royal Society of Biology in 2017 observed a tiny British island of St. Helena with 502 endemic species, many of them are rare and endangered. In FSM, 119 varieties of birds species were recorded as early as 1990. We must not allow these species to vanish. Several animal and plant species around the world need our collective help.

Stewardship of the environment is what we need. It entails responsible use of natural resources through sustainable practices. Stewards could be doers, donors, and practitioners. Doers take action to help a cause, like park cleanups. A donor provides financial support and fundraisers. Practitioners on the other hand work with government agencies and other groups towards a goal. Anyone can be an environmental steward by being involved.

The present generation must preserve the environment for the future. Given that the present human population is 7.8 billion, and 2 billion will be added after 30 years, nothing will be left for the future if we do not conserve today. As future leaders, students must care for the environment.

A sustainable use of resources ensures a healthy environment. Nonrenewable resources make up 85% of the world’s energy sources that will reach depletion. Sustainable use is essential to conserve these resources for long periods of time. This creates a need for a balance between our need for progression and the environment’s need to be preserved.

Balance is required to ensure human needs and the planet’s resources. It is important to create a balance that brings forth harmony in nature. Harmony demands our respect towards other species. In 2015, scientists at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity concluded that 150 species are lost everyday. In a few decades, the world will lose biodiversity. We should take action to conserve, preserve, and sustain whatever resources are left to our care.

In conclusion, everyone has a role to make a difference in this world. It is our responsibility to take every little step to care for the planet and nurture it. Becoming aware and spreading that knowledge can inspire many others around the world to take similar steps. Knowing that this planet is our only home makes it all the more important to take action for us and for all the inhabitants of the earth. As future leaders, young students can make a big difference in order to conserve and sustain our home. Conservation is crucial in our lives in order to protect our home.