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

  Shop for Eco-Socks  

NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Santa Teresa High School, San Jose, California, USA

« ++ ·
· ++ »

Santa Teresa High School, San Jose, California, USA
View Smaller Image


Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: San Jose
Posts: 1
View this Member's Photo Gallery
I have always possessed a love of nature. Growing up, I would sneak out into my backyard during the night. There, I experienced adventures reminiscent of Indiana Jones as I rescued helpless ladybugs from the loathsome spiders, went searching for gold in the bushes, and watched chubby beetles scuttle by. The love of the environment and its inhabitants has only increased as that dorky kid grew up into today’s young adult.
My concerns for the wellbeing of nature, however, are also rising. Although considered the most adaptive and intelligent species the world has ever witnessed, we humans are also the most greedy and destructive. Our historical and current environmental degradation has threatened the beauty, health, and survival of our planet and all of its inhabitants, including our own human species. Therefore, this growing concern has encouraged me to take action against this tragedy.
As a junior at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, California, I founded and was president of the Green Team, an environmental club on campus. I continue to be the president of the Green team today as a senior. I was then taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in Environmental Science and Biology, and I was desperate to find a way to help my community and school achieve greater environmental sustainability. After a chance discovery of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project website, I convinced my club advisor and club officials to commit to executing an Apprentice Ecologist project here on campus. This was the perfect project to start off this club’s agenda, and it will not only improve the environmental sustainability here at school and in the community but it will also raise much needed awareness. My school and community at that time were not particularly environmentally friendly. Many students were not aware of the environmental impacts of the choices they make daily. Most importantly, there was no established campus recycling system. In the decades since the school has been established, tons of recyclable materials have simply been tossed into the garbage bins and would ultimately end up in a landfill. No other schools in the East Side Union High School District possessed recycling programs either, and few businesses in the community even gave a thought to such thing. However, I was determined to change all of these unfortunate characteristics.
The Green Team began small but quickly grew to more than fifty members, making it the third largest club in the school in only its first year. Today it is still growing in membership. I was pleasantly surprised at the dedication, eagerness, and passion these members displayed, and I am incredibly grateful for their commitment to this club and to improving the well-being of the environment. We, as a club, decided to launch a multi-faceted Apprentice Ecologist project to effectively address the many issues hindering the environmental sustainability of the school and community. As the president, I was in charge of organizing everyone and implementing all these measures.
Our first priority was related to education and awareness. If a greater amount of people knew how their everyday choices affected the environment, then they will hopefully be motivated to change destructive behaviors. With the help of the Green Team advisor and AP Environmental Science teacher, we began with the own Green Team members and later branched out to the students and staff in the school as well as the residents of surrounding neighborhoods. Our awareness campaigns included daily reminders and weekly features on the school’s morning announcement, posters created on recycled paper, and regular suggestions from a variety of teachers. What surprised us was the willingness of everyone involved to help out in any way they could. Teachers offered to house recycling bins in their classrooms, the student body government extended time during school events for environmental awareness efforts, and parents helped us fundraise to purchase recycling supplies and other materials. Over time, our efforts began to work. A record number of students signed up for the AP Environmental Science and AP Biology classes during my senior year. Random students will come up to me and proudly announce that they’ve taken to riding bikes to school, trading their cars in for hybrids, or have convinced their families to recycle at home. I have seen students go out of their way to recycle and pick up the trash of other inconsiderate students. We have achieved in causing people to rethink their lifestyles and slowly make small changes that will collectively make a huge difference.
However, the largest proportion of our time and efforts was employed in establishing and maintaining a recycling program. First of all, we found a recycling company, San Jose Conservation Corps., that was willing to recycle our materials for us at no charge. We would simply need to focus on collecting it for their weekly pickups. After a generous donation of recycling bins from the San Jose city government and recycling bin stickers from the company Recycle Across America, we began our collecting plastic containers, paper, cardboard, glass, and aluminum. Mr. Louie, our principal, and the student body government both granted us permission to place recycling bins within classrooms and outdoors around campus to maximize the amount of materials recycled. With approximately one hundred bins around the school and dozens of volunteers, we were able to collect an estimated ton of materials over the course of 2013. Logistical issues such as garbage contamination did arise, but I am incredibly proud that we were able to save that astonishing amount of resources from being wasted. We saved a ton of materials from being stored in landfills where they could possibly contaminate the earth and groundwater supplies, dumped in the ocean where they would harm marine animals and ecosystems, or burned in incinerators and contributing to global climate change. In addition, we, as an entire school, were able to unite to execute this feat.
Despite our great accomplishment in recycling, we did not simply want to focus on handling materials after they were used. We also wanted to promote the reduction of waste. Through a school-wide campaign, we encouraged students and staff to purchase and use reusable drinking and eating containers. Teachers were persuaded into banning the use of disposable water bottles in their classrooms. Meanwhile, the Green Team began selling reusable water bottles, and the principle was able to obtain government grants to construct more drinking water foundations for students to fill up their bottles. In addition, the officers of the Green Team collaborated with the Monterey Plastics Summit to conduct a research project in order to assess how many disposable and reusable water bottles the sports teams at Santa Teresa High school were consuming. With more knowledge about the plastic consumption rate at our school, we can more effectively coordinate our awareness campaigns to reduce the usage of plastic.
Our efforts were not just limited to the school. The Green Team also conducted different projects around the community as well. We regularly volunteer in environmentally related events such as habitat restoration and cleanups in nearby parks, lakes, reservoirs, and more. Moreover, we have spoken to business owners around the neighborhood about having recycling containers and using more environmentally friendly products such as organic produce from the nearby farmers’ market. I have personally offered support and advice to environmental groups at other schools in my school district as they establish their own recycling programs. Together we can improve the environmental sustainability of our entire community.
The Green Team’s Apprentice Ecologist project will not solve the entire world’s environmental problems, but it has caused a profound change in how my school and community lives and operates. We no longer solely care about ourselves. With greater knowledge and awareness, we are striving to reduce our negative ecological impact. We are refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling. The small changes we make are collectively going to make a huge contribution to the effort to save the health and well-being of the environment.
My club’s Apprentice Ecologist Project has also produced a significant change in my life. Along with learning leadership and public speaking skills, I finally found a cause that I can dedicate myself to and be passionate about. I love working with people who care about nature as much I do and overcoming challenges that arose during this project with creativity and critical thinking.I now plan to major in Environmental Science and Public Health in college. This project has inspired me to spend the rest of my life advocating for the well-being of the environment.


Post-project Interview with NWP:

I will be attending the University of California, Davis in fall 2014. I plan on majoring in environmental policy analysis and planning with a concentration in climate change policy and international relations with a concentration in global environment, health, and natural resources. I am interested in studying the effects climate change and depletion of resources will have on the international community in the future. We, as a collective species, are destroying the biosphere, and we must collaborate globally to effectively address environmental issues.

Beyond my undergraduate education, I have not decided further educational or career goals. I may pursue a graduate degree in environmental science, public health, or international relations and later a career in a international non-profit organization such as the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). I may also attend law school and become an environmental lawyer. Another alternative is to attend medical school and become a humanitarian doctor. Wherever my educational and career paths lead me, I am committed to helping achieve a more sustainable society. I intend to live to witness greater social awareness about and action against environmental degradation and climate change.

The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative projects have greatly contributed to the environmental sustainability of communities throughout the United States and the world. Students have organized cleanups, recycled, educated others about environmental problems, convinced politicians to pursue environmental policies, and conducted research. Also important, the projects has enabled hundreds of young adults to develop leadership skills that will help make them confident and outspoken future leaders of the movement towards a more sustainable world.

My Apprentice Ecologist Initiative project has allowed me to connect with dozens of other students who share my passion for the environment. During the course of the project, I have also developed leadership, public speaking, and networking skills that will be crucial to my future as an environmental advocate.

I strongly believe that we, as a species, can no longer ignore the devastating effects our actions have and will continue to have on the environment. The environmental issues that the world faces will only continue to be exacerbated if we do not take action soon to advance towards a more sustainable world. We have to realize that our survival and success depends on the well-being of the environment. Thus, we must become active stewards of the environment.
Date: January 1, 2014 Views: 8445 File size: 22.7kb, 2623.2kb : 4000 x 3000
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 50
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 14 to 18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 900
Print View
Show EXIF Info