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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, California, USA

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Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills, California, USA
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bizzylizzy



Registered: July 2011
City/Town/Province: Beverly Hills
Posts: 3
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In Beverly Hills, there’s a lot of cement. There’s a lot of very clean and very dead cement. After moving to Beverly Hills, I missed the pine trees and hiking trails of where I grew up. One place that always amazed me was our small school produce garden on the 4th floor patio. It was a little piece of nature and it was perfect. Inspired to complete an apprentice ecologist project, but stumped because I live somewhere so far from nature, I wanted to find a project that everyone in my community could take part in without leaving Beverly Hills. When I saw them using store bought fertilizer on our school garden, I was shocked to see that they hadn’t thought to use compost. That’s when I realized I could connect my community by nature by encouraging composting. Not only does composting keep trash from landfills, but also it generates a nutrient rich fertilizer-perfect for our school’s garden.
I did research on various types of composting and found vermicomposting to be incredibly interesting. With vermiculture, worms break down organic materials. Vermicomposting takes less time than conventional composting and can even be done in a bin indoors! The High School hated my idea of having “creepy crawlies” break down our cafeteria scraps. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t understand how much a school vermiculture system could contribute to global sustainability. Feeling shot down by the administration, I asked my science teachers if they would be willing to have these composting bins in their classrooms. When they agreed, I needed to find community sponsors to help buy the worms and the bins. I found local businesses and families willing to support our cause, and even got some worms for free online! The day I carried the delivery boxes full of worms into the house from my mailbox, I had no idea the power of what I held in my hands. How could I have imagined that what started in three classrooms would become a program running at eight local schools? When the principal realized the success of composting in the classrooms, they gave me permission to set up a system in which the cafeteria food and cardboard scraps are added to our schools vermiculture bins. Then of course, there’s still the school garden which immediately began benefiting from all of the free, nutrient rich fertilizer we were producing.
Community education and integration was a key component to what I then called the Worms Can Save the World Project. I contacted various schools in the community to see if they would be interested in help setting up their own vermiculture systems. I knew the cost of all of the materials would add up, so I asked stores for discounts on the bins in advance and started selling the excess worm castings to local gardeners. With enough materials and enough interested schools, the Worms Can Save the World Program expanded incredibly fast. I expanded the program to underprivileged schools in the area, confident that this project could inspire people from all walks of life to be a part of the global sustainability movement. I gave assemblies at five schools with two of my friends who were a huge help in the project, David and Akhil. Teaching kids what to put in the compost bins, how to harvest the fertilizer, and how worms play a role in the ecosystem as decomposers was an inimitable experience. Education was clearly the key to spreading this composting technique which eliminates so much waste while returning nutrients to our soil and our ecosystems. At the Beverly Hills’s Farmers Market Earth Day Celebration, the worms made their community debut at a booth where over twenty people contacted us for advice on setting up their own home bins after the celebration. That’s when I started WormsCanSaveTheWorld.weebly.com, a website with vermiculture information and a vermiculture blog. Soon the worms and I were wanted all kinds of events including two school science nights and an environmental science showcase. Every kid that played with the worms and every mom amazed by their power to reduce waste and create compost will never look at red wrigglers the same way again. I can’t think of a more important use of that time than empowering people by giving them the knowledge they need to work with the Earth instead of against it.
This project is something I will never stop being a part of. The “worm team” at school is fully equipped to run and expand the system when I graduate, and we check in with the schools we helped set up every week. I’ve always loved science and with this project I could use my love for running lab analysis to check the produced fertilizer for carbon and nitrogen content. I knew this project would teach people about sustainability, but I never expected it would get so much attention. The project was featured in two local papers and I had people coming up to me at school to tell me how cool they thought our vermiculture program was. By bringing bins of “creepy crawlies” to schools across cement-ridden Los Angeles, I was able to bring a love of nature and an awareness of ecology and environmental science to hundreds of students and community members. The rewards of this project can be measured in numbers, like 8 participating schools and 4,380 pounds of waste composted to date. There are also results of this project that can’t be measured yet, like the number of kids who will be inspired to become scientists and the number of families who have learned incorporate sustainable practices into their everyday lives.
This project made me realize that nature can be brought into classrooms miles from any green space and into communities once based around status and fashion. This project gave me hope for a future where everyone knows the meaning of sustainability, a future that I believe is not too far away.



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 am excited to be attending Michigan State University this fall. I will be in the Rise Program, a residential initiative on the study of the environment. I am interested in becoming a conservation biologist and I think both Michigan State University and the Rise Program will be my pathway to success. Go green!


HOW WILL YOU USE THIS SCHOLARSHIP TOWARD YOUR EDUCATION?


This scholarship will be a big help towards paying for college in the fall. I cannot thank the Nicodemus Wilderness Project Apprentice Ecologist Initiative enough for this great award.


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


I will also be paying for college through student employment, scholarship money and a ton of help from my mom!


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


My educational goals are to be both informed about the world around be and prepared to deal with changes in the world and solve any problems we may face. I hope to become a conservation biologist, and would also love to teach at some point in my life because of how many influential science teachers I have had. In life, I want to always respect myself, those around me, and the planet we live on.


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


The Apprentice Ecologist initiative is an amazing program. Everyone who participates is rewarded with the experience of completing a project that they know has truly made a difference in the world around them. By recognizing certain projects, more people are encouraged to participate and share their stories. This program fosters a sense of community for youth committed to environmental stewardship and applauds the hard work of each participant by giving them an opportunity to share what they have done and appreciate the work of others.


HOW HAS YOUR APPRENTICE ECOLOGIST INITIATIVE PROJECT ENRICHED YOUR LIFE?


The Worms Can Save the World Program brought me a sense of accomplishment and taught me the wonders of teamwork. I learned so much from working with David and Akhil. I learned how to be an effective leader with starting the worm teams and I learned how to get people to care. The project taught me so much, but it also filled me with hope that everyone can come together to solve problems and have a profound effect.


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


Being an active steward of the environment will only become more and more important as time goes on. I find so much joy in the natural world around me, whether it is in gorgeous Yosemite National Park or a lizard basking on a rock in a garden. I feel so connected to the world around me and want to protect it for years to come. Being an active steward of the environment is a responsibility that everyone has. We live on this Earth, and it is our job to take care of it.
· Date: December 26, 2011 · Views: 3904 · File size: 15.3kb, 468.4kb · : 2592 x 1944 ·
Hours Volunteered: 385
Volunteers: 60
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 6 to 75
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 1,986.735
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