Monday, August 2, 2010

Ten-Year-Old from West Virginia Makes A Big Impact

Soon to be fifth-grader, Maria Sobinovsky, from Martinsburg, West Virginia loves to hike, climb trees, play tag, sled down the gigantic hill in her back yard and talk about Leave No Trace. Last year she made it to regionals with a social studies fair project about the program. Below, Maria answers a couple of questions for Susy Alkaitis at the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics

Susy Alkaitis: What do like best about Leave No Trace?

Maria Sobinovsky: The thing that I like best about Leave No Trace is that the guidelines teach people how to treat nature and places which is so important.

SA: Describe your project?

MS: My West Virginia Social Studies Fair project title was "Preserving & Protecting our National Parks". The topic hit me almost instantly because my family and I have now visited 297 national parks, so I knew a lot about this subject. In addition to visiting national parks, I have earned 217 Junior Ranger badges so far. I think that my badge vest was a nice touch to my project because it might encourage other kids to earn their own badges. In my project, I talked about the history of national parks, some of the partners that help them (such as Preserve America and Leave No Trace), how kids can help preserve and protect them and what some of the concerns are (such as endangered species and graffiti.) I also distributed a survey to my school (with almost 500 replies) to see what kids my age (10-11) knew about national parks and the Leave No Trace ethics. I found that most kids are not familiar with the Leave No Trace guidelines. I think that we all need to do a better job of educating everyone.

SA: How did you do in the Social Studies Fair?

MS: The WV Social Studies Fair was fun and lot of took me a few weeks to work on my report, abstract, backboard and display. I also had to practice my oral presentation. At my school level, I place 1st in my category of Geography. Then I moved on to the county level where I also placed 1st out of eight counties. In the regional level, I placed 2nd.

SA: How do you and your family practice Leave No Trace?

MS: To name a couple things, our family practices Leave No Trace by following the guidelines such as leaving only footprints and taking only pictures and when camping, we pack everything out.

SA: You're a very accomplished Junior Ranger. What is your favorite part of that program?

MS: My favorite part of every Junior Ranger program is when the ranger gives me my badge. It's nice when kids (and even adults) say "WOW!" and want to earn a badge too. I now have 217 badges. We are fortunate to go to all these wonderful places. I learn so much.

SA: Describe your perfect day outdoors with your family:

MS: My perfect day outdoors with my family would have to be hiking, biking and picnicking in a secluded place where we can listen to nature's music.

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