Heather DeWitt

by Geeta Malik

"At a young age I was given the opportunity to make a difference. I believe that if the opportunity is given to other young students, they will rise to the occasion."
<center>Heather on Anacapa Island </center>
Heather on Anacapa Island

MY HERO met Heather DeWitt, a Student Conservation Association intern, on the Jason XIV expedition to the Channel Islands.

Heather DeWitt began a conservation program at the age of 16. She heard a story about the way that the iceplant, an invasive species, was taking over the native agriculture of the Channel Islands, and she decided to find a way to help. She says, "I came to the islands as a freshman in high school and was impressed by the beauty of the island, and everybody’s efforts to preseve it. I wanted to be included, so I got more involved." She organized students at her high school to form an Environmental Club, and they made expeditions to the Channel Islands to remove the iceplant.

<center>Iceplant on Anacapa Island</center>
Iceplant on Anacapa Island

The iceplant was originally introduced to the Channel Islands because people wanted to prevent erosion due to the wind and rain. However, while the plants were effective in preventing erosion, they also began to choke out the native agriculture of the islands. The iceplant had already started taking over the island's natural plants when Heather decided to step in. She developed and implemented a way to remove the iceplant to help restore the native plants, and was able to get her friends and peers involved as well.

Jessica Mahmood, a Student Argonaut with the Jason XIV expedition, named Heather DeWitt as one of her role models.

Related Links

- A Web page where Heather discusses her background and her experiences with the Jason Project.
The Jason Project