Celebrating Untamed Ogden’s Air

Celebrating Untamed Ogden’s Air

What does it mean to have a sense of place? Why do certain places have greater meaning for us than others? Why are some people drawn to the desert, while others to the mountains or water?

Setting aside a land formation from the land surrounding it by naming it, describing it, and sharing your emotional reaction to it sets it apart from the everyday.  A sense of place is a feeling of ownership or personal investment. It is cultural evidence of our connection with the land.

Ogden City’s slogan, “Still Untamed,” owns our gritty history and beautifully diverse community, while cleverly touting Ogden’s well-deserved status as an outdoor recreation hub. My sense of place in my Ogden community includes hiking, biking, five years as an outdoor environmental educator at the Ogden Nature Center and six years as a classroom teacher at DaVinci Academy. It includes involvement in conservation, student empowerment, and the idle-free movement. I have been proud to be involved in the adoption of idle-free status for multiple schools, businesses, and one church. A few faces from the last two years’ graduating classes are just recognizable in the photo below. In it beaming seventh and eighth grade students proudly wave signs to educate parents about the dangers of idling cars outside their school during an Idle Free Week in 2013.  

The recent Every Utah Kid Outdoors legislation advocates for Utah’s children and their right to grow up experiencing our breathtakingly beautiful, ecologically-diverse landscapes. Our state is, as I tell my students, “postcard perfect, every single day.” We live in a place that is visited by one-third of the Earth’s migratory bird population, owing to the precious and delicate Great Salt Lake ecosystem. Utah is home to nine Dark Sky Parks! We are blessed to live within a couple of hours’ drive of desert, mountain, forest, or riparian ecosystems in Utah, not to mention the sites of some of the most abundant dinosaur quarries. Our parks are international tourist destinations, and people from all over the globe come here to ski. But, in order for Utah’s kids to grow up appreciating these spaces, they must get outside and experience them. In order for these spaces to be experienced, they must be preserved. And we must make sure that the environment around these places is a safe place for children to explore.

Two of my high school conservation club students recently approached Ogden City Council, sharing their own research on our local air pollution problems and charging the Council with the responsibility to take action and lead by example. Council Member Luis Lopez agreed to take action to preserve the health of our children and their ability to safely explore outdoors by sponsoring an Ogden air quality ordinance, now being drafted with the aid of Ogden’s new Sustainability Committee. This is something to celebrate! I want to thank Mr. Lopez for responding to our youth, when they asked if they could count on their City Council to protect the health of Ogden’s children, “You can count on me.” I understand that the Council Chair and Vice Chair have made this an immediate priority, and I thank them as well.