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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Lemoyne, PA

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Lemoyne, PA
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Registered: December 2019
City/Town/Province: Harrisburg
Posts: 1
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Our idea to do the Apprentice Ecologist projects started when one day my friend and I were washing yoghurt cups for recycling in the school kitchen, and we were discussing the school's ideology of sustainable development. While acknowledging that the school has made positive changes toward a more sustainable future, we both agreed there were still issues of deeper public concern. We decided to investigate how we can help the school to become more aware of our carbon footprint and what we can do to reduce it.

Through our research, we learned about composting. This was especially interesting because we had observed the large amount of food waste after lunch each day. We were confident we could put a plan into place, so we started recruiting students for help. A couple students expressed their interest, and they began to attend our meetings. Soon we noticed that our project had turned into a club. As an official sustainability club, we were allowed to ask for funding from within the school community. We explained what we were going to do, and how much money we needed exactly. With a generous donation from the parents' association, we were able to purchase a composting system. We were ready to start composting!

We informed the school community, including the student body, what we were going to do. We set bins in the cafeteria into which the food could be collected. At first there was a bit of resistance - some students did not pay attention to the bins at all. We started to meet every day after school to cut the food waste into smaller pieces so it would be more easily decomposed. The waste is then put into bigger bins to decompose. After spending about a week in the bin, the product, called 'precompost', is then sent to families primarily within the school community and to community gardens in the area.

Now, heading into the winter season, our Apprentice Ecologist project is still on, as we are promoting other important components of sustainability at our school. These include the use of solar panels, eco-friendly lightning, and recycling. It is our intention to make a podcast about the importance of sustainability, and to educate younger students to be environmentally cautious citizens of the world.

I began to worry about the situation with climate change when I noticed a dramatic change in climate. Growing up in Finland, I learned that we were not getting as much snow as we used to. I began looking for ways in which I could remedy the situation. At home, we tried to reduce our carbon footprint; we began line-drying our clothes and instead of going to school and work by bus, we would walk or bike the 2 mile trip. Getting used to a new lifestyle takes time as the change is not visible immediately. Thus, it is important to adjust to the changes in early stages of life.

One of our goals was to educate younger students. Children's brains are not fully developed yet, so adapting to changes in habits and routines is easier for them than for adults. By encouraging these students to separate the compostable waste from other waste, it has made them not only to realize how much waste one can produce, but also to think about what kind of an impact their choices have on the environment. Recently, we learned that the students had created their own club that focuses on promoting the importance of sustainability in daily life.

Not only have the children benefited from our club's actions, the parents association has put up recycling bins at school events. I feel like the faculty are starting to appreciate what our club does - the Director of Communications and Marketing wants to advertise our club in the magazine that goes to the parents. Seeing these changes in people's attitudes warms my heart. It gives me this feeling of achievement and appreciation, and I feel like I can do anything when I first make a change in my own actions.

What we have done so far, is a lasting legacy. Recycling bins and posters are everywhere, and as our middle school students grow up to be high school kids, they will keep doing what we are doing right now - educating younger ones and being a role model by making the right choices. The school is now also more aware of the amount of food waste and energy use, and with this important knowledge, they will be more efficient in finding new ways to solve problems they face in the future. As I make my transition from high school to college, I will keep promoting the importance of aspects of sustainability by joining sustainability clubs and participating in sustainability-related activities, where I can offer new, fresh ideas to the other members. When I graduate from high school, I wish my work will leave behind eco-friendly thinking students and faculty.

No one can make big changes or solve civic engagement problems alone - it requires good resources and mutual understanding. Someone has to be the one to set the ball rolling. Sometimes it is challenging to be that person, because the change does not happen overnight. However, with the community around us, we can do whatever we desire if we just take an effort to place ourselves outside our comfort zones and keep looking for the best qualities within us while being a curious risk-taker.
Date: December 17, 2019 Views: 4044 File size: 25.4kb, 1615.7kb : 3024 x 4032
Hours Volunteered: 96
Volunteers: 6
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16-18
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): 50
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