Before coming to UVM, I hadn’t realized how important the connections between humans and their natural environments are. I came in with the conception that “environment” has to mean natural (birds, trees, forests, water, ecosystems, etc.), but I came to realize that the environment applies to everything around you. Our social structures are important to developing a sense of identity in the same way that natural environments shape our health, aspirations, and experiences. A healthy ecosystem, like that of my place, is important for ecological processes and for providing services to humans. Although I don’t take fiddleheads or grass from the site, I am exposed to the recreational and aesthetic value of the pines.
Why do I think that Aldo Leopold decided to write an entire essay about how much he loved pine trees? Because it was a reflection of his attitudes and his experiences. His attitudes, values, and beliefs then produced a behavior (chopping down of the trees that shaded the pines). I think that my attitude towards the pines is appreciative. This is because I value aesthetic experiences, understand how pines ecologically important for woodpeckers and organic decay, and have walked through Centennial for the past eight months. Attitudes are at the core of culture- we can’t develop relationships between each other without understanding what we value within.