Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Casteel High School, Queen Creek, Arizona, USA

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Casteel High School, Queen Creek, Arizona, USA
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2020vision



Registered: October 2018
Posts: 1
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Nicodemus Wilderness Project: Steps to Sustainability
Every Wednesday, classrooms expect to hear footsteps in the halls as their recycling bins are added to the hefty container. The wheels roll along the smooth floor as the students gather scrap paper, plastic, and other materials that were not long ago sent to the landfill. This is the recycling club I helped initiate this year to help my school contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.
I live in a small community where these practices are difficult to come by. Moreover, the state of Arizona is at the center of climate change; according to climatologists, our surroundings are heating up and drying out faster than anywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. Despite this, Phoenix is one of the least sustainable cities in the United States. Most plans to change this are ignored, even opposed, by the state government. For many years, my neighbors and I had no choice in where our resources go once we have used them. I have often felt regret when disposing of materials that could easily be kept for another purpose, in another place. Then I met my environmental science teacher, who helped find a solution; she talked to local administrators and designated recycling centers where we lived to reduce waste and maximize efficiency. Inspired by her efforts, I decided to study nature and find a way to return its favors.
Public projects always start small, and in my case it has begun with school. One of our first ideas was to start a recycling club, where students could volunteer to collect the recycling bins that are now placed in each classroom. Thanks to teamwork and our teacher's support, our school is partnered with Republic Services to live more sustainably. By using material again and again, we are removing the "away" from "thrown away." Many people take it for granted that they can toss whatever they don't want and never see it again. But all of the spoiled food, old notebooks, and used plastic are sent somewhere we can't ignore. On average, five pounds of trash per person enter America's landfills every day, totaling to 294 million tons according to a calculation at Yale in 2013. Landfills may be a temporary solution for us, but it is harming ecosystems everywhere at an alarming pace because of the space it requires to hold these unwanted, yet practically untainted resources. It hurts us too, like anything that damages the planet; food is distributed at an uneven rate and while many people receive too much, far more receive too little. More expenses every year are added to manufacture new products from new material, when the old could easily be used again. There is very little cost to the individual to make this happen; the "three R's" are one of the simplest ways we all can demonstrate an environmental conscience.
Another benefit of our recycling program is that it grants a special opportunity to intellectually disabled students at Casteel High. Together they make the Colt Crew, and they are the biggest contributors in the school. They make the weekly trips with their teacher and enjoy doing it, too. Upon visiting their classroom, I was glad to see their enthusiasm in performing this simple but substantial task. The club has been able to give these disadvantaged students a crucial role in helping us reduce our carbon footprint. It is also promoting equality among students, and the community, while encouraging involvement in sustainable living.
Because it is a college-level course, my classmates and I are visited monthly by the sustainability professors at Arizona State University (ASU). We frequently discuss human impacts on the environment and how we can fix, or at least reduce, the severe problems caused by them. One of these issues is water conservation; especially in Arizona, fresh water becomes scarcer by the moment. What my class signed up for in the autumn was Project WET, or Water Education for Teachers. We taught elementary school students in Chandler about watersheds and why they need protection. In a single afternoon, hundreds of students interacted with realistic models of the water cycle and were taught about their role in maintaining its balance. Our project reached Fox News, and our pictures were displayed on the school webpage.
Finally, ASU's School of Sustainability is one of the nation's most dedicated teams when it comes to taking environmental responsibility. Recently, the Sierra Club named ASU sixth in sustainable schools across the States. It is one of America's oldest and most influential institutions pertaining to the field. As a result of its partnership with my school, my class is earning college credit for learning about environmental science in a readily applicable way. On my most recent visit to the campus, one of the professors told us in great detail the enormous recycling project his class had undertaken to introduce sustainability. The Sun Devil Stadium is Arizona's most sustainable athletic department; on November 10, 2016, the stadium recycled 93% of waste during a football game against Utah. This not only benefited the environment but saved potentially millions of dollars in waste disposal. During this field trip, I had the chance to discuss this and other related topics with students from a variety of other schools. We all presented ideas about agriculture, energy usage, water resources, and more. I hope to be a greater part of such collaboration in the future, especially in college, where it can set an example to many.
Next semester, the recycling club resumes its duty. Although things will remain the same in some regards, the impact schools like mine will have upon the community, and perhaps beyond, will be incalculable with even more practicality, participation, and persistence.
Date: December 31, 2018 Views: 1786 File size: 16.8kb, 1760.9kb : 3024 x 4032
Hours Volunteered: 84
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 and 14 to 18
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