Nicodemus Wilderness Project
Nicodemus Wilderness Project
About Us Projects Education Links Volunteers Membership  
Nicodemus Wilderness Project

 
 
  Shop for Eco-Socks  
  Join  
 
 
 
 

NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - St. Charles North High School, St. Charles, Illinois, USA

« ++ ·
Real_Camera_1121.jpg
<<
Wilderness.jpg
<
cid_74299A56-43C7-45A0-828F-1EBEB62D64B5.jpg
·
ecoclubearthweek.jpg
>
DSCN0884.JPG
>>
· ++ »

St. Charles North High School, St. Charles, Illinois, USA
(Click on photo to view larger image)

jam93



Registered: November 2011
City/Town/Province: Saint Charles
Posts: 1
View this Member's Photo Gallery
In 2011 I was a junior at St. Charles North High School in St. Charles, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. At the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year it was hard to believe the sad state of the recycling system at my school. Recyclables were always going into garbage cans, and the few recycling bins we did have were ignored. I asked around, but nobody—not the custodians, student council, or even the principal—knew how or what to recycle. I decided a change needed to be made. During junior year, I took the issue to district administration and offered to help fix the problem. This mission, and my passion for the environment, allowed the ensuing project to have great impacts on my school and community.
To start off, I worked with district and school administrators to develop a single stream recycling program. Single stream recycling means that all recyclables can be put in the same recycling bin, which makes it easier for people to recycle. As I said before, there was a lot of confusion among students and staff as to what could actually be recycled, so I initiated an advertising campaign to promote the new single stream system. I worked with the school leadership to give announcements, make posters, give speeches, create display cases, and otherwise clarify for the students and teachers how to recycle.
I also focused on eliminating cafeteria waste. In previous years, the cafeterias in my school district have used disposable Styrofoam trays to serve food. However, Styrofoam is bad for the environment because it takes millions of years to decompose and is not recyclable. To combat this issue, I talked to the district administration and the district food service company, who agreed to replace the Styrofoam trays with reusable plastic lunch baskets. This program was already in place in one middle school and a few elementary schools in the district, but had not been extended to the rest of the district or the high schools. I was able to help successfully extend the basket program to my high school by introducing a new recycling bin and garbage can system to the cafeteria to keep students from throwing the baskets away. I then did outreach allowing the other high school and the rest of the middle and elementary schools to implement the same program.
The third phase of the project involved revitalizing the school’s Eco Club. The club had existed in previous years, but most of the members had graduated and no new members were joining. However, there was a need for a group of people that could tackle the multiple environmental issues in the school. I worked with several other students and teachers to revive the club. I utilized my advertising, organizational, and leadership skills to help create a solid member base and gain a real voice in the school. The club continues to monitor the progress of the baskets and recycling and also tackle new environmental issues at our school, making the entire project sustainable for many years to come.
This project was very important to me. By recycling, we prevent waste from going into landfills and allow it to be reused. Reusing recycled items means new products don’t have to be made, which protects land from being exploited for its resources. This makes recycling extremely important. However, I knew that if students weren’t being taught to recycle at school, they wouldn’t recycle at home. Recycling is such a simple way to help the environment it seemed a shame not to have all those kids recycle. I tried very hard to make the project succeed, and in the midst of all that work I learned some valuable lessons.
I quickly learned I am very good at organizing details, and I made many plans, agendas, and timelines to keep everything straight. This helped me communicate effectively, but sometimes too much organization is an issue. I discovered that, no matter how carefully I planned, things didn’t always go the way I wanted. Sometimes plans are better if they are more flexible than detailed, because flexibility makes it easier to deal with unexpected problems. Over time, I learned to make my plans elastic so I could easily make adjustments.
Throughout this project, I occasionally had to leave my comfort zone. I gave a speech explaining the new recycling system to 500 freshmen and 200 staff members at orientation. Even though I practiced my speech in the mirror with a hairbrush about twenty times, I was still sweating bullets before I took the microphone. But when I got up on stage, I felt confident and strong. My dedication to the project helped me overcome some of my fears.
By the end of the year, the project had reduced my school’s solid waste output by 60 percent and increased our recycling output by 25 percent. This means that literally tons of Styrofoam and other waste had been saved from going to landfills, which is a direct benefit to the environment that will continue to have an impact for years to come. Also, by reducing the need for expensive garbage pickups and trash bags, the school saved over $4,300 in one year. The cafeteria and recycling systems have now been implemented at all 17 schools in the district, where they make similar impacts.
Also, by implementing the basket project in all the school cafeterias, I made the concept of being “environmentally friendly” visible to thousands of students across the district. Almost every student goes to the cafeteria, which means they are all exposed to the concept of waste reduction as a way to protect the environment. The educational campaign to increase recycling has also been visible to the student body and the faculty, and many of them are now more aware about recycling and its benefits. By educating the people at North and in the school district, we have created a culture of environmentally aware individuals that will extend into homes, the community, and beyond. Hopefully, the practices that students learn in school will stay with them their whole lives, and will have immeasurable environmental impacts by keeping waste out of landfills.
I personally continue to help lead Eco Club, and we still monitor the baskets and recycling systems. Next year, I plan to go to college to major in environmental science, and then I want to get a graduate degree in a related field. After that, my future is up in the air. But after doing this project, I know that one person can have a big impact on the environment. Hopefully I can continue to have such an impact as the years go on.



END OF ESSAY



Post-project Interview with NWP:


WHERE DO YOU ATTEND OR PLAN TO ATTEND COLLEGE AND WHAT IS YOUR FIELD OF STUDY/INTEREST?


I will be attending Northwestern University and studying Environmental Science.


HOW WILL YOU USE THIS SCHOLARSHIP TOWARD YOUR EDUCATION?


I will use this to help pay for tuition.


HOW ELSE WILL YOU BE PAYING FOR YOUR ACADEMIC AND RELATED EXPENSES WHILE IN COLLEGE?


Other scholarships, summer work programs, saved funds.


WHAT ARE YOUR FUTURE EDUCATIONAL, CAREER, AND LIFE GOALS?


I want to get a Bachelor's degree then go on to graduate school and possibly get a PhD. I want to help people understand why the environment is important and how to use it responsibly. I hope to be able to work in a job that allows me to fulfill this goal and be outside a lot.


WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE LONG-TERM BENEFITS TO YOUTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT MADE POSSIBLE BY THE APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE?


This program encourages us to take a stand for what we believe in. This promotes leadership and environmental stewardship. The projects done for this initiative not only protect the environment now, they build future environmental advocates.


HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?


This project has helped give me the opportunity to get a really good education so I can go into the field I want to. Because of this education, I will be able to make a difference in the world.


WHY DO YOU FEEL IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE AN ACTIVE STEWARD OF THE ENVIRONMENT NOW AND IN THE FUTURE?


The environment is extremely important to our lives for many reasons: resources, aesthetic appeal, history, recreation, and more. To protect these uses for the outdoors for many years to come, we need to protect the environment now for use in the future.
· Date: November 23, 2011 · Views: 4483 · File size: 12.6kb, 75.1kb · : 640 x 480 ·
Hours Volunteered: 250
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 15 to 45
Print View


raphaelmahangi

Registered: March 2013
City/Town/Province: Meatu -Simiyu Tanzania
Posts: 1
March 21, 2013 6:17am

We need to learn about how to recycle the waste products, such as used empty plastics bag etc. Also, we need to be involved in research on impact trees called Mihale. Thank you for giving us your essay of the knowledge you obtained and I agree with your idea. I would like to collaborate with our organization in formulating solutions to these problems.
On top of that, I welcome you and I shall join your effort to help make it a success. This research will help the environment and the community by preventing high pollution concentration in the ground (i.e., through osmosis and loam, soil becomes dry land).
Apart from that, we hope to include youth under 17 years old in these projects.
I am looking forward to hearing from you.