Aaron Huston Interview
If Aldo Leopold could nominate an individual who embodies the idea of a “land ethic” then Aaron Huston President of the Sustainability Organization at UW Bothell (SOUWB) would surely win his vote.
Huston, a senior environmental and global studies student at UW Bothell, strives everyday to tread lightly on the land, living in harmony with the environment. He takes ownership in making conscious decisions that reduce his impact on the environment—walking to school, buying organic locally grown foods, bringing awareness of sustainability issues to the campus community, and reducing his material consumption—all in an effort to preserve our natural resources and set an example for future generations.
“Consumerism is the main problem of our society [we] must be more aware of the little things, think before you do something irrational,” Huston proclaims.
In following his core values Huston was naturally drawn to the SOUWB. After hearing about the organization and talking with Friends of North Creek Forest (FNCF) co-founder and former SOUWB President Darryl Nevels, Huston began volunteering his time in the forest working on various restoration projects.
Huston has dedicated his life to bring awareness to others in helping them understand ways they can make a positive impact on the environment. Through the countless hours Huston has volunteered with the SOUWB and FNCF to help improve the ecological integrity of North Creek Forest, he is fulfilling this mission.
“It has been great to work with him because he encourages me to push myself harder and always go above and beyond what I need to do or can do,” said Liliana Olivella, a fellow SOUWB member and active North Creek Forest volunteer. “He is like a little Tazmanian devil, very charismatic and enthusiastic, and is very committed to the main goal of the organization which is to promote sustainable practices among the student body and the rest of the community.”
When it comes to promoting sustainability on campus Huston taps into his core strengths of being a dedicated, hardworking leader to overcome the challenges associated with encouraging a student body of time constrained individuals. Huston explains the difficulties involved in getting active participation among fellow students who are often holding down full-time jobs in addition to other commitments outside of school.
Despite the challenges he faces in his role as SOUWB President and Earth Day Fellow, Huston has been very successful in recruiting volunteers from campus to work in North Creek Forest. The most recent volunteer event, MLK Day of Service, was a huge success as a result of Huston promoting the event among the UW Bothell campus community.
“On volunteer days, on Saturdays when we go to remove invasive species it’s like a family out there,” Huston said, referring to the restoration work parties in North Creek Forest. “Jim and everyone out there are really nice; they talk to you and get to know you and your interests. When you go there it’s not like you’re really working, you’re having fun with everybody, that aspect is really important.”
Actions that Huston advocates for extend to persons of all ages. He emphasizes the importance of youth learning outdoors in a forested setting, stating K-12 schools should establish more programs that facilitate hands on activities to help youth understand their role in the environment. “Interpretive tours are really important for kids,” he said. Huston believes the key to achieving sustainable living is creating awareness through education. Talking to students and teaching them about the forest while they do an activity at the same time is very effective and the kids enjoy it, he said, proposing the idea of a lesson plan that teaches kids different cultural uses of plants.
Being an environmental steward has its perks. In taking care of the environment Huston is able to carry on a long tradition of playing in Mother Nature’s playground. Huston, a naturalized native to Washington State, grew up loving the outdoors as he followed in his father’s footsteps as an avid outdoors man. Growing up in a military family, moving around a lot as a child, Huston moved to Silverdale 12 years ago where his family finally took root. If you’re ever looking for him on a Saturday afternoon if he’s not out in the community volunteering for restoration events he’s probably up at Steven’s Pass gliding down the slopes on his snowboard, or he might be out in the field scoring a touchdown.
If you’re lucky enough to run into him don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. Huston prides himself in being a “leader that listens,” knowing that rapid advances toward a sustainable future are only attainable through the collective efforts of people all across the land. He enjoys engaging in vibrant discussions, feeding ideas off one another to generate beneficial outcomes. Huston truly believes that we must work together; expressing that collaboration will increase the probability of brainstorming solutions so we “can all have a healthy sustainable livelihood today and in future generations.”
Executive Director Intern
Friends of North Creek Forest