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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon, USA

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Jesuit High School, Portland, Oregon, USA
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Registered: December 2009
City/Town/Province: Portland
Posts: 1
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The first time I heard former Vice President Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth in 8th grade, I vowed to make a stand against global warming. During my sophomore year at Jesuit High School, I had the opportunity to fulfill my vow when I was elected to my school’s Student Government. I decided to use my new found position to start a brand-new sustainability initiative, called Green Crusade, to make positive, eco-friendly changes to the Jesuit community of more than 1200 students and faculty.
I created and presented the Green Crusade proposal to the faculty that emphasized the three R’s needed to promote sustainability, Realize, Recycle, and Reduce:
1. Realize: I wanted to create a systematic campaign to make the school community realize the contribution of the school’s use of resources to global warming and get my peers excited and motivated to make substantial changes in their lives. Moreover, I wanted the initiative to include as many student volunteers as possible to make it truly a community effort.
2. Recycle: My initial survey of school’s cafeteria, grounds, and classrooms showed little emphasis on recycling of containers and bio-degradable materials. I wanted to start an aggressive campaign to greatly expand the use of recycling across the campus.
3. Reduce: To further reduce the overall carbon footprint of my school, I also wanted the school to adopt alternative energy and materials. This would include the use of solar energy, the use of biodegradable trays/plates/cups in the cafeteria, the use of water-efficient faucets and energy-saving fluorescent bulbs, etc.
I translated my ideas into actions by implementing the following:
• Solar Energy: I started by focusing my efforts to get funding to install solar panels. After doing some research, I found a local foundation, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), which solicits grant applications from local schools to fund the purchase and installation of solar panels at no cost to the schools. I contacted the foundation and obtained the application form. Before I could submit it on behalf of my school, I had to get approval from the highest authority at my school and the management chain in between. My student government teacher enthusiastically approved the application but it turned out to be a long journey before I could submit it. After gaining approval from my school principal, president, and development office, I had to make a presentation to the school’s building committee and maintenance director to gain their approval. Although they applauded all the hard work I put into the project, they did not want to submit the grant application because Jesuit had already applied for some other grants and they did not want to jeopardize the outcome of those grants by applying for another one. However, with a few calls to BEF, I persevered and convinced the building committee to approve the grant application. With that, I submitted the application. Five months later, I learned that Jesuit had been chosen to receive the grant! However, due to the recent economic decline, BEF was no longer giving out solar panels and was instead awarding portable solar panel learning systems to the chosen grant applicants. Although we did not receive what was expected, the solar panel learning system will help to educate students about solar panels as the system allows students to directly interact with and operate the system.
• Recycling: I led efforts in installing more blue bottle and can recycling containers around campus, and installed red recycling containers in each classroom to make recycling easier and more habitual.
• Switching to energy efficient materials and practices: I also led efforts to retrofit all of the light fixtures in the school with fluorescent light bulbs (which reduced our energy usage by one third). We retrofitted the school printers to print double-sided and switched to using environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies and fertilizers. I also convinced the faculty to start using organic, sustainably grown coffee. I worked with school facilities department to install faucets around campus for filling reusable water bottles to promote students’ use of reusable water bottles, and to switch to using environmentally friendly biodegradable dishes, bowls, and napkins in the cafeteria.
School-wide awareness: As part of the Green Crusade, I led efforts in organizing a Green Week for our school with a group of students. The purpose of Green Week was to heighten the awareness of students and staff about climate change and sustainable practices. To accomplish this goal, we contacted the Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury and requested him to come and present the Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth to all the students and faculty. Paul Vogel, the managing director at PacificCorp also agreed to talk to the students and faculty. These two speakers influenced more than 1200 students and faculty at Jesuit. In addition, during green week, we also organized a carpool day where students were encouraged to carpool, use public transportation, or bike to school. The carpool day was a huge success as we had more than a hundred empty parking spots on the Jesuit campus. Also, during the entire week, we organized a reusable water bottle campaign through the use of posters, banners, and announcements, to make students more aware of the negative effects of plastic water bottles and to convince them to make the change to using reusable water bottles. Today, if you take a walk around the Jesuit campus, you will see that the majority of the students are sporting a reusable water bottle because, at Jesuit, reusable water bottles are the new chic way to make an eco-friendly fashion statement.
Because many students, staff, alumni, and parents were not aware of the comprehensive set of changes being made around campus, I started a sustainability newsletter at Jesuit to educate the students, staff, alumni, and parents about the changes being made on campus, to provide tips on how to be more sustainable at school and at home, and to inform them about the power of recycling. The feedback I received on the sustainability newsletter convinced the activities director at my school to make the sustainability newsletter an annual event that would continue even after I graduate.
Summary of impact:
Overall, my efforts with the Green Crusade helped my school to reduce one-third of its electricity usage and start using biodegradable materials. The initiative also encouraged many faculty and students to make a permanent switch to carpooling to school and highlighted sustainability as a main issue for the school’s administration. The students have also shown an increased awareness in sustainability by choosing to use reusable water bottles instead of plastic ones.
Spreading the word to other schools:
Because the Green Crusade is an initiative only at Jesuit, I have decided to extend it to all of Jesuit’s sister schools first, and then hopefully to some public schools in the pacific Northwest. More often than not, people are ready to make changes within their communities, but they don’t know how to go about doing it, or they are too busy to put in necessary time and effort. Therefore, I have created a Sustainability Handbook for Schools. This 40-page handbook describes in detail the steps needed to make a school more sustainable. The majority of the pages in the book are devoted to providing information about different projects that the school can implement to become more sustainable. For each project, the book provides the reader with all the information needed to implement the project including detailed steps on how to implement the project at your school and how to get it approved by your school. Because money is a big issue, each project includes information about the cost of the project and the time necessary for the project to pay for itself. Each project proposal also includes information about where to buy the necessary merchandise for the project, the item number of the merchandise so you can find it easily, installation time, how to install it, and who can install it. Each project is designed to help the environment in a different way, and this information is also provided for each project. Each project also has an already written proposal to give to a school administrator to get it approved. As a result, making your school more sustainable requires minimal effort; since all the research, proposal writing and grunt work is already done, the reader simply has to follow the steps provided, and hand a copy of the proposals to the school administrator to be approved.
Overall, this has been the most satisfying endeavor of my life -- working on these projects not only benefits the environment and helps spread awareness, but the work also taught me about perseverance and the power of one’s voice to make a stand against global warming and generate change in a community. The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative has the power to not only inspire students to take action, but also make positive changes in our world. It only takes one person and one persistent voice to spur action and change in others.


Post-project Interview with NWP:


As I am a junior in high school, I do not yet know which college I will be attending. I plan to apply to some of the most selective colleges for a pre-med program. I am interested in medicine, specifically neuroscience as well as in law (criminal defense).


I will use this scholarship to pay for a part of my college education. Although $500 is not enough to pay for my entire college education, I am sure it will be a good stepping stone towards obtaining other scholarships. I plan to use a combination of such scholarships and my parents’ help to afford the tuition for a highly-selective college.


The Apprentice Ecologist Initiative is a great program as it connects so many people from around the world with a common interest and shows them that they are not alone in their endeavors to make the world a more sustainable place. The hundreds of photo entries not only have the power to teach others about the beneficial impacts of small changes on the environment, but they also spread awareness about the environmental issues. By realizing the impact one person can have on the environment, other people from around the world will become motivated to do their part and will feel energized to pursue new ideas, projects, and changes that can help preserve our planet for future generations.


My sustainability initiative at Jesuit (Green Crusade) helped me to realize the benefits of making sustainable changes and has hopefully shaped me into a life-long steward for sustainability. Through the Green Crusade I learned about the importance of having perseverance in the face of obstacles and resistance. For example, I learned how to convince school administrators and staff about the importance of making sustainable changes and how to spark enthusiasm for the Green Crusade within a group of students. Overall, this has been the most satisfying endeavor of my life -- working on these projects not only benefits the environment and helps spread awareness, but I have also learned a lot about the power of one’s voice to make a stand against global warming and to generate change in a community. Getting this award has been an extremely gratifying experience and it has spurred me to look beyond my community to look for opportunities to collaborate with teams around the world to create a larger, more effective movement towards a sustainable future.


It is our privilege to live on a planet with a hospitable climate and a variety of resources. However, we must not forget that we share our planet with a multitude of plants, animals, and the next generations, who will inherit the planet from us. It is our duty to protect and preserve our planet for all the future inhabitants so that they may live in a healthier, greener, more beautiful world. It is important to be a lifelong steward of the environment to ensure continuity in our efforts so that we do not ONLY think of sustainability on Earth Day or when some disaster strikes.
Date: December 29, 2009 Views: 11390 File size: 22.3kb, 769.7kb : 1291 x 1763
Hours Volunteered: 200
Volunteers: 4
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 to 16
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Registered: October 2010
City/Town/Province: accra
Posts: 1
October 30, 2010 10:55am

I am new to this site and want to learn from others interested in the environment.