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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, Iowa, USA

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Roosevelt High School, Des Moines, Iowa, USA
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Registered: December 2021
City/Town/Province: Des Moines
Posts: 1
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Even as we move further and further into the virtual world, schools across the country produce thousands of pieces of recyclable material a day. The blue bins chucked into the corners of classrooms at Roosevelt high school were my glimmers of hope for a chronically underfunded and decaying high school. Until my senior year when I was informed that Roosevelt high school did not actually recycle at all. The blue bins in the classrooms were just interior design choices that would get emptied into the dumpster at the end of the day. In that same year, I became the co-president of Environmental club. After weeks of cringing every time I “recycled” a paper, my co-president and I stumbled across an instruction plan to set up a recycling program in our school, someone just needed to put it into action.
We started by gathering data from the staff. We needed to know what teachers had bins, which didn’t, and how many larger bins we would need to acquire for collection. After scavenging basements, and applying for grants from the PTA we had either found or bought enough bins to support the project. In order to meet the districts requirements, we researched exactly what could be recycled, and created labels for each of the bins with the guidelines on them. While these triumphs were cherished, the big challenge was finding a workforce to collect the bins. The overworked janitorial staff wanted nothing to do with our unpaid collection needs so we took to the students. At first, the twelve hearty members of Environmental club were enough to collect the bins from all three floors every week. I found myself on the front lines, mashing down overflowing recycling dumpsters just to fit more material in. However, it became an all-consuming task for a club that was designed to educate about and serve in all areas of environmentalism. My co-president and I didn’t want all our other plans sacrificed to one project. We needed to put the word out that a volunteer opportunity was available.
Throughout the planning time I worked with various administrators and our principle to get the project approved and garter more publicity. We incentivized the project by offering to validate service hours that would go towards our school’s graduation service cord program, hung posters, and pestered the secretary to make dozens of announcements on the PA. Soon we had a force of students at our disposal ready to help pick up recycling on the days our club couldn’t. We held training sessions for the new volunteers so they knew what to do each day, and were even able to make a seminar class for students who wanted to volunteer to take during the day. Whenever a problem arose, I was there to fix it. I loved the feeling of leading my peers in an effort we were all passionate about and taking initiative.
Moving into 2022 my goal is to set up a board of students and administrators that can continue the program long after I’m gone. What means the most to me about this project is that it reaches farther than my own passions for environmentalism. It encompassed a whole school of students making little contributions to the environment each day.
Recycling is a foundational task in environmentalism. It seems like a cliché because it is so common place and simple, but that is exactly what makes it so important. Recycling can be introduced into the daily lives of countless people with little effort and cost. Schools produce countless pieces of recyclable material a day which is why they need to be the main targets of my recycling mission. Not only does their capacity make the recycling done meaningful, a successful program can be kept running for years, continuing to inspire students to take action for their planet.
Even as schools turn more and more towards online resources, they are still putting out hundreds if not thousands of pieces of paper and recyclable material a day. When these things get tossed in the trash it not only contributes to rise of waste in the world, but it teaches young people that they can take the easy way out and bear no consequences, or least no consequences they can see. They become comfortable with the idea that ‘a few pieces of paper won’t make a difference’ and sink further into a ‘not my problem’ mindset. By implementing this project not only did we make ecological change, but we created an opportunity for other students to take responsibility and become part of a greater mission for ecological salvation.
Going to college marks the start of my career and that start of my mission to have an impact on the world. As I make headway in the world I will carry the deeper appreciation I have gained for recycling, but I will also carry the lesson that seemingly daunting feats of environmental change are well within my grasp.
Date: December 29, 2021 Views: 909 File size: 27.7kb, 1429.1kb : 1170 x 1166
Hours Volunteered: 250
Volunteers: 25
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 and 14 to 18
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