8-18 MEDIA: Raising awareness about the environment

Members of the Marquette Senior High School Environmenal Club are pictured. From left are student club members, Althea Bruggink. Ashley Beck, Angelie Garner, Seth Martin, Kayla Mirsoltani, Kate Compton, Zuri Brindle, Cece Jacuzzo, Tatum Larson, Hava Thiele, Sarah Conklin, Lily Dixon, Raina Doughty, Lily Smentkowski and advisor Stephen Atwood. (Photo courtesy of Stephen Atwood)


8-18 Media

Special to the Journal

Spring is just around the corner and the new season comes with the exciting time of purchasing new seeds, watching flowers bloom, and planting new beginnings. The Marquette Senior High School’s Environmental Club is launching an exciting new project that encourages the community to plant trees in order to offset energy use at the high school.

Mr. Atwood, a science teacher at MSHS and the advisor for the environmental club, believes the philosophy of teaching is to allow students the opportunity to study in the outdoors when learning about their environment, instead of reading straight out of a textbook. Atwood explained what the Environmental Club’s main objective is.

“We do a lot of environmental education for students in the greater school community and we do a bunch of projects that loop in students to try and raise awareness about environmental issues and being environmentally conscious in our Lake Superior community,” Atwood said.

The members of the Environmental Club are taking on a new project in partnership with Tree-Plenish, a non-profit organization.

“TreePlenish is a student-led organization, and what they do is help schools across the whole country organize tree sales that offset energy use by individual school buildings. School buildings will do a survey of their energy use to determine the number of saplings they want to sell to offset their energy use,” Atwood said.

Tree-Plenish as an organization has made it easier for schools to be a part of the solution regarding sustainability management. According to their website, what they do is “Tree-Duce, Tree-Use, Tree-Cycle.” MSHS aligns with Tree-Plenish’s mission of replenishing the environment by planting a target number of trees based on how much energy or paper the school has used that year.

The community can be involved in taking part in this environmental advancement by purchasing a tree online. Atwood said one does not have to be a part of the Marquette area or school community.

“They can be from anywhere, from across the state or beyond. Individual trees cost five dollars and folks don’t have to be here to purchase the trees. The trees that we sell are native to the area so they are not going to disrupt our ecosystem, “ Atwood said. ” That’s an important part of the process. We don’t want to try to solve one problem by creating another. It’s important to understand that the trees are native to this ecosystem and they have adapted to live here so the trees are specially made for us by nature.”

You may be asking yourself how buying a tree can help. Atwood said that by purchasing a sapling we are offsetting energy use, specifically electricity and heat energy. By planting trees we are capturing atmospheric carbon that will be removed from our atmosphere that may previously have been a contributing factor to climate change and the increase in our average global temperature. By planting trees, we are making affirmative decisions for our future planet.

Atwood’s excitement for all things environmental is contagious to his students. Lily Dixon, an MSHS senior, who is a member of the Environmental Club said she loves being a member as it makes her feel like she is making a difference in her community that has done so much for her.

“I have grown up here and I want to give something back and help preserve the environment. I also like working with other people to do something I care about like helping the environment and climate change,” Dixon said.

Seth Martin, an MSHS junior who is also involved with the Tree-Plenish fundraiser and an avid member of the Environmental Club, said he believes the fundraiser is important for our earth and important in further educating the community.

“I think buying these trees is just kind of something you can do that can make you feel better and it’s something you can do that doesn’t have to change your whole life,” Martin said.

Atwood encourages small changes that individuals can make to further the environmental movement.

“Be conscious and mindful of the decisions you are making every day and that requires a lot of brain power and every day is going to be different from the next. One day you might be able to think about where your toothpaste comes from or the toothbrush you are using and other days you might not be able to think that much. Some days the goal might be to reduce food waste,” Atwood said. “Wherever one is, whatever one can do is important so just be aware and be honest with yourself. It’s ok to catch yourself throwing away something that can be recycled and be like oh yeah, I’m going to recycle that. It’s a process. Be forgiving of yourself and others, but make the effort.”

To order a tree, or for more information head to http://tpevents.org/school/3195. Saplings can be bought up until April 13th and MSHS Environmental Club members can come to your house within the Marquette area to help plant the trees when they arrive. Purchasing a sapling is the perfect gateway for the upcoming spring season and allows you the firsthand opportunity to have a meaningful impact on our environment.

EDITORS NOTE: Nistha Gautam is an 18-year-old senior at Marquette Senior High School.


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