Cultivating a Love for the Outdoors

Jake & Ebony 2005
Jacob at his family cabin in 2005 (the blue sign above the door reads “enchanted wilderness home”)

Reflection by High School Student Jacob Baisden

My love for the outdoors definitely came from my dad and my grandpa. We would go up north to Three Lakes, WI where we have 80 acres. We would spend time clearing trails and making deer stands on our land. My great grandpa bought the land in the 1950s and hunted on it every year until he was physically unable. Our cabin on this land we call “the shack” because it is really just a shack. It is a little smaller than a two-car garage, and holds five beds (two bunk beds) a wood burning stove, water pump, and a propane oven. The furniture and decorations in the shack really make you feel connected to nature. There are tons of antlers everywhere, an old bee hive and deer hooves for coat hangers and more antlers for drawer handles. There are even mushrooms for shelves.  We would love to go muskie fishing at nearby Lake Julia.

Something that fostered my love for the outdoors was going to visit National Parks; Rocky Mountain, Everglades, Glacier Bay, Denali, Badlands, and Olympic. Another thing that fueled my love for nature was nature movies and tv shows. Planet Earth and all those other nature documentaries are my favorite. I could watch those for hours.

Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ makes me see my existence as to serve man and nature. The Earth is calling out to us and we must respond. I feel obligated to show others what I see and make sure they realize their part in taking care of our common home. I try to make others aware of the environmental problems and also help them appreciate what we have been given as humans. God has created a beautiful Earth and we need to ensure humans don’t spoil it with development.

My Catholic education and science classes have opened my eyes to my duty to my home and the problems that exist. At our high school we have an environmental/outdoors homeroom that has given me a platform to get out into the field and do conservation work and other environmental education opportunities.

Laudato Si’ Project has really allowed me to be a good steward to the land. It has given me knowledge and ideas for what I want to do for a career and how to inspire others. It has shown me that being a good steward should not be done alone but in a group where we are stronger. Jesus said, ” where two or three are gathered in my name I am with you.” When we work to restore this Earth together, we are working in His name and He is with us.

My favorite Laudato Si’ Project outings has been the one where we did an oak savannah restoration with the Milwaukee Audubon Society at one of their preserves. It doesn’t seem like work to me and I want to see the land the way God intended. The outing was my favorite because we were all having so much fun working in the snow and we found a ton of caves/crevases that were amazing to explore. This outing showed me how we can have great fun together working for good and inspire our friends and family members to answer Pope Francis’ call. I know that in the future I can inspire my friends to do their part and help save this Earth.

Milwaukee Audubon Society and MUHS students working at the Kolterman Prairie


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