By Halli Holmgren

Halli Holmgren at Hanakapi‘ai Falls. Photo by Léo Azambuja

We humans think we know a lot about the Earth, but we have barely scratched the surface. Susan Middleton, a photographer and author, made it her job to go out into the world to find and capture the hidden treasures of nature, and share it with everyone.

She and photographer David Liittschwager, along with National Tropical Botanical Garden botanists Steve Perlman and Ken Wood, traveled to remote areas of the Hawaiian Islands to photograph all different types of rare plants and animals to create the book Remains of a Rainbow.

During this process, they discovered new species, rediscovered species that were thought to be extinct, and saved many species that were close to extinction. In the end, Middleton made an amazing book, filled with breathtaking photos of nature. Each and every plant and animal are really unique. The way Middleton portrays those plants and animals makes you have a whole different view of them.

On the opening day of the art exhibit of the book Remains of a Rainbow at NTBG, I was lucky enough to be part of a select press conference. During this conference, I heard so many inspiring stories and learned so much in just a short amount of time. The stories that caught my attention the most were the ones of Middleton and others coming across these amazing plants and animals.

I can’t even imagine what that would feel like to discover a new species of plant or animal. I can’t imagine being the one who saved a species from extinction. Middleton didn’t just take pictures of these plants and animals, she helped to save many from going completely extinct.

Halli Holmgren. Photo by Tiallah Mortell

After all of these stories, it made me think on how I was contributing to nature, and how I could help to conserve nature. We should all really pay attention on how we affect the ecosystem. Are we helping nature? In some ways we are, but in a big way we are not. We should all take the time to make a difference, even if it’s doing something small.

I never realized how many things are going extinct every day. Scientists estimate 150-200 species of plants, insects, birds and mammals become extinct every 24 hours. Learning all this, it made me want to go out, discover and see new things. I want to help to make a difference.

I would just like to thank Middleton and her colleagues for doing all that they have done for nature. I encourage everyone to figure out how to make a difference and help this planet we call home.

Let’s all take breaks from our busy lives, go on adventures and discover something new. Let’s make a difference.

  • Halli Holmgren is an 11th grade student from Kaua‘i. She loves to skateboard, surf, make art and spend time with her dogs.

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