Published: February 3, 2016

    2nd Place Pelican Water Scholarship Winner: Joshua Kanagy

    Our 2nd place Pelican Water Scholarship Contest Winner—Joshua Kanagy eloquently and passionately composed an essay suggesting the slogan “Love Your Water”.His essay focused on the human elements of conservation and drove home the necessity of connection and empathy that companies like Pelican Water should strive for when encouraging conservation efforts.

    Joshua Kanagy hails from Virginia and has always fostered an enthusiasm for environmental protection. He obtained his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology from Eastern Mennonite University in the spring of 2013, where he maintained an A-average over the course of his studies. Joshua is currently attending Portland State University in pursuit of a graduate degree. The $1,000 2nd place prize from Pelican Water will help Joshua continue his higher education at PSU.

    Loving Our Water

    As we plunge deeper and deeper into this globalized age, common knowledge warns us that we are on the brink of complete environmental disaster. The oceans are rising, permafrost is melting, and ancient rivers are drying up before our eyes. Conservation of natural resources has never been more important than it is in this moment. My own life has taught me to love and respect our ecosystem, and to care for it as an extension of that love. By cultivating a secure bond with nature in young people, perhaps this generation can revitalize human care for the environment, and alter our course away from destruction.

    I was raised on 5 acres of land in rural Virginia; my Dad was a pastor, and my Mom stayed at home with my older sister and me. The most salient memories I have of my childhood are outside, away from noise, traffic, machinery, and the stress adhered to those things. Life was a mosaic of gardening, stacking wood, and building imaginary cities in the gravels underneath our back deck. I’ve spent summers swimming in the Laurel Fork river beside a cabin my family owns. The air is cool there, a relief from our humid valley. I’ve played beneath the canopy of green forests, beside milkweed and fireflies, and honeybees gathering pollen from clover.

    I remember the smell of the grass in June, and the hay field behind our house billowing in the wind like waves. I’ve swam in three oceans, visited foreign lands, and come back home to my sweet, water-rich Shenandoah Valley. My care for home, for beauty, for wild spaces runs deep within me. I’ve been in love with the natural world since I was a small boy. When you love something, you want to ensure its health and longevity, and so I feel about our green earth.

    Our society’s distance from nature is the source of a host of problems, most notably is our apparently collective believe in its disposability. California is in the midst of a record-breaking drought, exacerbated by human misuse and overuse of water. Meanwhile, global warming threatens to escalate droughts, desertification, and other dangerous climate related events throughout the world within our lifetimes. In order to preserve this earth for future generations, we must immediately learn the values of environmental protection and water conservation.

    We can still instill this urgency in young people through a variety of different means. Globally, I believe our responsibility is to educate young people about the science of climate change, and to include that information in general education courses across grade levels. Young people have a right to know the facts about an unstable climate, and to be equipped with the tools necessary for a hopeful future.

    At Pelican Water, basic water conservation data could be included in your advertising to develop awareness among your clientele, and to heighten their sense of personal responsibility. Show the public that your company cares about future generations, highlight the charities you’ve partnered with and the ways in which Pelican Water is already contributing to a greener world. For instance, your corporate office in Florida is close to many ecologically sensitive coastal areas; demonstrate your investment in the water resources of your local community, as well as those abroad. Interview children and young adults who are concerned about their water use, and show them using your water-saving devices. Young people want to make a difference, and to feel good about the businesses they support.

    Pelican Water may bolster water conservation most effectively by promoting contact with the natural world. If we as a society realize the beauty and uniqueness of our own local ecosystems, we will believe in the implicit value of our water resources and ensure their protection. Pelican Water’s marketing slogan could be as simple as “Love Your Water.” Your advertising could include videos of clear mountain streams, clean oceans, and people hiking, kayaking, and otherwise enjoying those spaces. Encourage people to get outside and explore their city parks, rivers, and national forests; help them fall in love. You could kick off your campaign by mailing free collapsible water bottles to anyone who sends you a photo of themselves in nature, and give away National Park passes to first responders. The water bottles could be paired with hiking and camping guides, and additional information about Pelican Water. If you can convince young people of your responsibility and enthusiasm for nature, you will have their support, and you will be a powerful aid to water conservation.