A Seventh Grader’s Letter to GPC

What inspires you to get outside? What’s special about the outdoors? How is GPC able to protect so much land!?  

These were questions answered by GPC’s AmeriCorps VISTA member Ben Crooke in response to a thoughtful letter written to GPC from a Fairhaven Middle School student in Bellingham. Tessa, a 7th grader, was performing a Washington natural resource history project for class, and was inspired to write a letter to GPC about their appreciation of our work. Tessa commended GPC for protecting much of the ecological integrity of West Puget Sound and also expressed their own dreams of getting outside more to experience the wonders nature has to offer.  

Attached below are some of the highlights from Tessa’s letter and Ben’s responses. 


We have been writing letters and getting more tapped into how we can connect our lives to the larger world. Most recently, we researched the most famous natural landmarks in Washington. This has motivated us to connect with an organization that works to care for those kinds of majestic wilderness places in our state.  

Related to that, I want to be the type of person that loves to be in the wilderness. I find nature so relaxing and beautiful, which is why I find what you are doing so admirable. Some places in Washington state are unbelievably stunning and conserving them just keeps their beauty for others to see. I am pleased to hear that there are many organizations like yours in Washington that care for the nature covering the state. I wanted to reach out to your organization specifically because I have seen the nature and areas that you are conserving, and it is just radiating beauty. 


One of the many things that I love about nature is the sense of wonder and curiosity it can give us. There’s a great quote that I once heard being referenced when it comes to our fascination with the world by American Poet Lew Welch who once said: “Step out onto the Planet. Draw a circle a hundred feet round. Inside the circle are 300 things nobody understands, and, maybe nobody’s ever really seen. How many can you find?”   

      I really respect and admire your interest in wanting to love being in outdoor spaces, my advice to you is follow your dreams and your curiosity. The outdoors can be a little intimidating, so go with people, learn to get down on your hands and knees to visit the world of small, enjoy the satisfaction of sun shining into your skin, the rush of the wind blowing against your head and behind your ears, and all of the other tiny but marvelous satisfactions being in the outdoors can give to you. If you’re looking for inspiration to explore in the outdoors, I highly recommend you check out some of Bird Baylor’s books like “The Way to Start a Day”, “I’m in Charge of Celebrations”, and “The Other Way to Listen.”

Speaking of the larger world, the photo below from a NASA satellite, shows how connected we are, sharing the water, trees, and snow-capped mountains that define our region. GPCs mission is to protect the natural habitats, rural landscapes, and open spaces of the Great Peninsula region of West Puget Sound; that slice of Washington and the Salish Sea is part of a greater whole.  


It was really incredible to explore your website. Three things that stuck out for me related to what you do are: 

1. I think it’s very cool that you encourage communities to come together to help the forests, streams, and beaches by having a volunteer program. Gathering communities and working to change the way we treat nature can really impact the environment and bring people together. 

2. I also find it very inspiring how you work in harmony with local governments, tribes, and landowners to try and create a better environment for everyone— you do this by providing tools and skill, as well as experience to conserve the exceptional scenery of the Great Peninsula area. 

3. Lastly, it’s very powerful to learn that you have conserved 11,000 acres of evergreen forests, salmon rivers, saltwater coastlines, and community parks! That blew my mind— you have conserved such a wide expanse of nature and to think about how much that will help the environment, I think that is incredible! 


YES! I completely agree that community is such a powerful tool. Have you ever heard of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child”? It originates from an African proverb and conveys the message that it takes many people (“the village”) to provide a safe, healthy environment for children, where children are given the security they need to develop and flourish, and to be able to realize their hopes and dreams. Well, the same could be said about forests, streams, beaches, you name it! If we really want to manage them sustainably for a long time, we need to come together to do so. That’s why working with local governments, landowners, and especially tribes, who have stewarded this land since time immemorial is so important to the work GPC does. 

Below are photos showcasing GPC’s work to get the local community involved with conservation efforts:


Thank you very much for taking the time to read my letter. I hope that you liked it and I hope you can see that I admire what you are doing because you help preserve the nature that covers our state. I am grateful that you do what you do because it helps the environment—including the animals, wilderness, and us humans. So, I wanted to say thank you for helping everyone. 

With great admiration, Tessa 

P.S. An outside place in Bellingham that I think you should know about is Clayton beach because it is gorgeous there. I have been there many times before and I love it. There is a beautiful walk you must take before you get to the beach, which is full of nature, and it is a lot of fun to explore! 


I loved reading and replying to your letter Tessa! Your letter inspires me to keep going and not give up. Hope is such a powerful tool. Your words carry more weight than you perhaps know, and people tend to greatly underestimate the power of their own voice. Keep using it, your words mean a great deal to me and everyone else at GPC that got a chance to read your letter.

P.S. Because I am new to Washington, I intend to check out many of the places you mentioned, so thank you for all the fabulous recommendations!   

Going out and exploring new places can be intimidating and uncomfortable because you don’t know what could happen. Not to fear, as Henry David Thoreau said, “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other land but this.” Now get out there! 

Learn to get down on your hands and knees to visit the world of small!