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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Gretchen Whitney High School

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Gretchen Whitney High School
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Registered: December 2016
City/Town/Province: Cerritos
Posts: 2
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Education is a powerful tool that influences the minds of children and adults from all walks of life. With a strong educational foundation the skies are the limit and with an open mindset, any dream is possible. Science is also an influential tool that empowers thinkers, big and small, to develop questioning and learning skills that are priceless towards a humanís development. However, itís when you combine education and science together when you truly see the most positive results and that is why my friends and I started the Ecology and Wildlife Club.
My name is Justin and I am a junior attending Whitney High School in Cerritos, California. I am the Secretary of the Ecology and Wildlife Club, a club that embodies the core values of teamwork and leadership which aims to connect education and science while spreading positive sustainability and conservation within our local community. Our club is a fairly new club, founded in 2015, but already we have made a big impact within our direct community. In just two years we have started two California-native drought tolerant gardens, built over a dozen dart frog vivariums, and started our very own educational program at our neighboring elementary school. Over the course of club existence, we have been able to educate our communities youngest and most brightest by going directly into the elementary school classroom and educating young children about the opportunity of science with a hands-on experience. Supplied by a passionate team of high school students our club has been able to turn ordinary ideas into extraordinary results.
So why did create a drought tolerant garden? After living in southern California for the entire sixteen years of my life, I can personally attest to results of Californiaís drought. In 2013, my father passed away in a tragic accident in the desert while hiking due to dehydration. It was a hundred degrees that day, but for the majority of southern California, those scorching temperatures were a common sight. California has been suffering from this drought for the past four years and seeing that many of the former local plants within my high school were dying due to endless heat waves, I took up the challenge to build my schoolís first ever drought tolerant garden. Driven by the loss of my father, I wanted to make an impact within my community so that I could spread awareness and educate future generations of how critical it is to engage in environmental conservation. With the help of a few passionate friends and a couple days of work, we were able to commission and create our own drought tolerant campus literally from the ground up. After receiving approval from our schoolís administration, we were able to transform a dusty and decaying plot of land into what is now a home to a flourishing environment which is home to several different species of flora and fauna. Our garden is home to a diverse handful of carefully selected plants such as the monkey flower, firecracker penstemon, and blue mountain lilac. Together our garden boasts a plethora of color throughout of the year, ranging from deep reds to bright purples, and in the spring and early summer months our gardenís wildflowers bursts into life providing additional color to our growing palette. Through our drought tolerant garden we hope to not only create a brighter, more beautiful environment at the Whitney High School campus but also inspire young teens to pursue science and promote conservation. By establishing this garden we hope to encourage and influence the lives of future generations and spread that same feeling of ecological stewardship that founded our club.
In addition to our gardens at our high school, we have also shared our enthusiasm for ecology and wildlife (hence the name of our club) to students in elementary school. These handfuls of years are considered to be the most critical period of our brainís development. It was in elementary school where we learned to read, write, add, and subtract, but it also we learned about science. This value of education and science inspired us to create Eco Education, a year-long course where we meet twice a week to teach a large group of students about new and exciting scientific topics ranging from evolution to adaptation. Our primary focus is to motivate students to engage in science within their everyday lives and our focus is through teaching them with a hands-on experience. This is why we created our poison dart frog vivariums. But I know what you're thinking, are those frogs poisonous? In the wild, these frogs become poisonous from eating poisonous insects found in the jungle, but our frogs eat fruit flies which are completely harmless to humans. With hours of research and financial help from individual sponsors, we were able to recreate that same rainforest climate and create our own classroom vivariums, and these things are cool! Equipped with special led lights that simulate night and day, we have put in a lot of effort make our special frogs feel right at home. By creating these vivarium tanks we are able to captivate the minds of curious young children and promote the fundamentals of science. We hope that our efforts inspire these young generations to ask more questions, conduct more intellectual conversations, and overall have more fun learning about science with a hands-on experience.
Science and the environment have propelled me to further pursue leadership roles within my community and with the motivation of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project, I plan to continue volunteering within my community and instill that same passion for nature in the lives of our future. Through this project, I have been able to conduct a meaningful impact that will hopefully influence the lives of others and promote the same values of conservation and sustainability that I have learned. This entire project has been an experience on its own and a priceless opportunity to interact with my community. My goal is to continue the Ecology and Wildlife Club throughout my years in high school and leave a legacy within my hometown that will pioneer a new wave of learning and innovation for the field of science. It is important that we do not lose sight of the values of nature and the ecological world around us, so I hope that this brief description of my own Nicodemus Wilderness Project inspires others to pursue their own challenges and devise their own solutions that answer our world's most critical problems.
Date: December 31, 2016 ∑ Views: 2459 ∑ File size: 22.6kb, 2114.2kb: 2846 x 1957 ∑
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 8
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 14-18
Native Trees Planted: 25
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