Doreen Yan, Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy

I am a student at the School of International Service and am connecting the credit to my
international development class (SISU-240-004-2017S). I am working with the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy (DOPC) this semester, a non-profit organization that aims to restore the 27-acre Dumbarton Oaks Park in Georgetown. This beautiful and historical park (which serves as a recreational space for D.C. residents), has deteriorated due to lessened management of the park.

A big part of my work with DOPC aims at mitigating the presence of invasive plants,
which have taken over much of the natural landscape and threatens the park’s bio-diversity. Through helping DOPC run volunteer events such as weed warrior trainings, I have learned to distinguish invasive plants from native plants in the park and how to effectively and manually remove invasive species. The organization helped me meet my expectations by showing me the parts of the park that are in need of restoration efforts and giving me hands-on work in the park. It really is a rewarding experience to work directly with the landscape and see the changes being made with the removal of invasive plants.

Unfortunately, that is the only volunteer work I have done so far. In the upcoming weeks, however, I will be helping DOPC run their Spring camp week as well as their after-school program. DOPC arranges various programs with D.C. Public Schools to help educate children on nature preservation through the activities they do in the park. The volunteer work I will do with DOPC includes: assisting with camp week, organizing activities and providing environmental education to DCPS students, and looking after the safety of kids during their time in the park. Working with children is something I am comfortable with and have experience in, therefore I believe I can benefit a lot from the future volunteer work I will do with DOPC.

With climate change being a major problem that destroys our Earth’s landscapes, it is more important than ever to learn ways to effectively restore and sustain bio-diversity. Connecting this to my SISU-240 course, climate change is the greatest threat to the continuance of international development for poor countries because they are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Regionally and internationally, the impacts of climate change are not felt evenly. Poorer countries do not have the resources to counter or adapt to climate change, as a result, they are most at risk of losing important aspects of their livelihood, such as food security.

The U.S. is a developed nation that has the responsibly of mitigating the climate change that harms our Earth’s natural landscapes and populations. Through volunteering with DOPC, I have gained awareness of the deterioration of landscapes that’s happening right behind our school’s campus. I have greater knowledge on invasive plants, and how to remove them so our landscapes can better flourish in their environment. Volunteering for organizations such as DOPC provides the world with the environmental sustainability needed during a time where climate change is intensifying.


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