Like any other, person I used to read about environmental issues in newspapers or the internet, but rarely remember myself putting efforts for any cause. However, during my IB Diploma years, while studying ESS (Environmental Systems and Societies), I learned that small steps locally by individuals can sooner or later have a significant contribution to solving the larger problem. So, me and 2 other friends of mine, together we decided to undertake our share of responsibility towards the environment, we decided to build a mini nursery in our school. Also during the initial stages of our project we also found out that around 3 lakh trees are cut every year in the state of Gujarat (where we live), surprisingly it didn’t come as shock to me because somewhere I knew what kind and how substantial damage we were doing to the environment from a very long time. However, it made my commitment to my project more firm and unwavering. My project also gave me chance to enhance and test my time management and leadership skills and chance to learn skills i.e. gardening.
Before, planning we already had decided that we did not want our project to just a mere activity to address the issue of deforestation but also wanted it to be a token of appreciation for our school for all it had done for me in the past two years after I joined fountainhead and of course the environment, and hence we managed to produce a small but a quality nursery, with all the best resources we could arrange.
In order to achieve the above goal, we initially worked with an experienced plant nursery worker and environmentalist. Also, before beginning the execution, there were a lot of things that needed to place like, what kind of plants to grown, arranging resources for gardening, volunteers, a patch of land etc, which required a lot of research and persuasion. I had to continuously be in touch with the environmentalist for guidance as we were, just freshers in this field (:P) collaborating with us in this project.
All seemed set to go and we were ready to execute our project after a rigorous planning for one month. But suddenly things started to fall apart, we didn’t realize what kept coming and hitting us. Our half of the seeds were misplaced, the patch the three of us cleared to plant on (which took us more than 3 three hours) was found to be inappropriate for gardening and lastly the environmentalist we were collaborating with and replying heavily on bailed out on us (we were hardly able to communicate with him). Subsequently, with all these problems showing one after the other our execution was delayed by two more months as soon, volunteers started bailing out as well as exams were soon approaching and considering it took us two weeks to arrange seeds and clear the patch and persuade volunteers we had almost given up on this project.
However, soon after the exams, even though we wanted a quality project; we realised that to do that we did not require a top-notch environmentalist, we started again with the project now working with our school gardener, we faced challenges to arrange seeds and bags to grow plants in without the environmentalist who was earlier arranging everything for us, but with our commitment and little more help from our school teachers we were able to arrange all the necessary resources (however did not compromise with the quality). Also, without any volunteers we knew it would be difficult to execute the project but not impossible so again started to call out for volunteers, initially when we started our execution nobody turned on early mornings, but we didn’t lose our hopes and started the project single-handedly, first day was tiring as hell as only three of us were trying to all the different jobs on our own. But as we did we realized I was more hardworking, responsible, determined and patient than I thought. Overall our quick and effective thinking and processing skills helped us come up with an alternative plan with all the flaws in our first one. Also this project helped me personally realize that how I needed to enhance my management skills after reflecting on the mistakes that we made during our planning process especially taught me the importance of commitment, like if broken it can mess things up for us badly (like we gave our volunteers a time period for the execution with all the problems we faced we forgot to keep them in loop and broke our commitment leading to no volunteers in the end).
After a while, few volunteers started showing up, not regularly but it did help us a lot and accelerated our project significantly. Moreover, working collaboratively also helped me gain motivation which I lacked previously. Also when own me and two of my friends were working alone but with three of together, it was a great support in tough times, which helped me mentally stabilize and think rationally in difficult circumstances. This project helped me learned gardening skills, how to form a contingency plan, how to persuade other and enhance my management skills.
Lastly, the important return this project gave me was: a sense of satisfaction and achievement.