Article by Claire Halloran
Art by CJ Callander
Photos courtesy of Will Zang
Will Zang, 21, of Pennsylvania, is a world traveler and environmentalist. At the age of 18, shortly after graduating high school, Will packed his bags and set out on the adventure of a lifetime, starting in Guatemala. He knew little Spanish, but was set on learning more about the language and culture of Guatemala.
After spending two months of observing the local culture in Guatemala, Zang set off to Europe, where he picked up various volunteer positions.
His first stop was in France, where he spent a month working as a beekeeper in a old mining town. He was the right hand man to the head beekeeper, who had several hives spread throughout a large national park. Zang would drive around from hive to hive feeding the bees sugar water. They would then take samples of larvae from the hive, return to the lab, and place them in incubators to develop new queen bees in order to start new colonies to keep the bee population growing.
Later, Zang moved to southern Spain to worked as a horticulturist on an olive farm for a short period, before moving on to Ireland. There, he volunteered as a farm hand, while also taking time to travel around the country to absorb as much of the local culture as possible.
Zang also had the opportunity to take his travels to New Zealand. During his time there, he visited multiple wildlife refuges, observing an array of endangered species, and taking note of what conservationists were doing to inform the public about the issues these animals were facing.
Zang took a handful of months to return to school at Delaware County Community College, but couldn’t sit still for long. The next leg of his trip landed him in Quito, Ecuador, where he worked with a university in the Andes mountains. The university was funding a veterinarian company that specializes in injured and trafficked wildlife. Zang had the opportunity to observe their egg incubations of endangered species, and was present to observe several veterinary surgeries.
He later went to the Amazon rainforest, and witnessed the negative effects oil companies are having on both agriculture and wildlife. Zang noted that the Amazon rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse parks in the world, and that is was disheartening to see all of the destruction being done by oil companies.
Now, Zang is studying natural science at Delaware County Community College, and on an early morning in November, he took some time out of his day to sit down with me to discuss his travels and passion for the environment.
Q: What first inspired you to start traveling?
My older brother was a big influence for me, because he traveled a lot before me. I didn’t really know what to do after high school, and I wasn’t that golden child with perfect grades and all that. I worked at a restaurant for 3 or 4 years, so I was good at cooking, so I considered doing that for a while, but knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I figured I might as well travel, but I’m not rich so I needed to find something to make it worth my time. But not having a lot of money, you have to make it work and I feel like you get a more authentic experience. So my older brother really influenced me to go out and travel. I was stuck inside my own bubble, and I needed to leave what was familiar for a while.
Q: If you could go anywhere right now, where would you want to go?
I’m really hoping to go to China after the spring semester. I’m interested in teaching English with a program through a university there. After you finish that program, you get a degree in teaching English which could be really useful in my career, because in conservationism teaching the public is one of the most important things you can do.
Q: Are you familiar with the Save The Bees initiative?
Yes, it’s actually what got me started with the company I created, liberate the little things. I wanted to draw attention to environmental issues, and educate young people in a way they could understand, free of all of the academic jargon we see all the time.
Q: What can we do to help and support the initiative to save the bees?
The best thing to do is plant a garden with flowers bees are attracted to, and do not spray them with pesticides. Bees only go to specific flowers, and they can’t take the pollen if there are pesticides on them. It’s a big problem in the United States, because unlike many European countries, we aren’t banning these harmful pesticides. Monarch butterflies’ lives are also at risk because of this, so we really need to stop using these pesticides. There’s also lots of companies you can donate to to support bees if you don’t have the time or resources to have a garden.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
The damage we have done [to the environment] is now irreversible. People our age, and our children, are going to be the ones who need to do something about our failing environment. It’s important to help the environment not just because nature is beautiful, but because without nature, there is no us. Science is as important as ever.