My name is Ashleigh Stohlman and I am an Americorps member serving the northeast portion of Nebraska.

When I was first asked why conservation was important to me, I didn’t have an exact answer. I’d had this conversation many times before with friends and family, but I didn’t quite know how to truthfully respond. My family and I spent a lot of time outdoors when I was growing up. Our family vacations almost always involved the outdoors: camping in Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado. I was taught from a young age to thoroughly enjoy all that the outdoors had to offer me. Conservation wasn’t a topic that was brought up often and as a young child, I didn’t know how it would later become an important aspect of my life. 

After I graduated high school, I had no plans to go to college, my only intentions were to work and to travel, and so I did.

I spent some time in the Midwest, working and saving money, before moving to South Florida when I was 25. My move to Florida was extremely valuable because it allowed me to experience the outdoors in a new way; the ocean, mangroves, new wildlife, hurricanes. 

It was here that my interest in environmental issues began to grow on a personal level. I wanted to know how humans contributed to these issues and how we could fix them. I volunteered at a few local rookeries, working with local bird species and sea turtles, helping restore and maintain habitats. I spent my summers traveling to Europe and South America. I worked at a yoga retreat center in Spain, learning how to teach permaculture. I got to meet people whose entire lives were dedicated to keeping the Earth happy and healthy. 

The relationship I shared with the outdoors and with my family was an integral part of my childhood. We can’t leave any stone unturned when discussing conservation, every aspect is relative. We need to create a symbiotic relationship with nature and use it’s natural mitigation abilities to fight global warming through conservation work. Nature itself can be the biggest tool we have to fight against climate change; by focusing on soil conservation, water quality, and clean energy, we can make a big difference. 

I want my children, my friends’ children, all children to be able to experience the outdoors I was able to when I was young — having the outdoors as a constant source of good guided me to where I am today and why my call to action exists. I hope to partner with communities all throughout Nebraska to make a difference through conservation efforts and to help promise a great outdoors forever.