By Megan Wallinga, Kyle McDonald, Allison Elkins, Brianna Mollitor, and Caden Klanderman – Careerline Tech Students
This year, the Natural Resources class at Careerline Tech Center decided to try out something new: The National Wildlife Federation EcoLeaders program. EcoLeaders’ mission is to encourage young people to embody values of economic, social, and environmental equality and sustainability. Through the program, students work on projects that promote a greener and more wildlife-friendly campus.
In order to encourage members of their community to enjoy nature and wildlife, the EcoLeaders team at the Careerline Tech Center decided to sponsor a Book Nook at Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing.
To raise funds, they decided to figure out a way to raise money and help better their community.
Every year, according to EcoWatch, 22 million pounds of plastic are dumped into the Great Lakes. Most of the plastic floats up onto shore, and it accounts for 80 percent of all of the litter that’s washed up on shore each year.
To help resolve the issue of plastic pollution, the EcoLeaders came up with the slogan “Plastic Pollutes.” They hosted a contest throughout Careerline Tech Center for students to create a design to be printed on a reusable bag, which students will sell to help fund the Book Nook. The winners were Kristin Donnelly with her “Whale You Please Recycle” design and Brielle Lacourse with her “Not Everything is Edible” design. “Whales are a very big part of our ecosystem, and I wanted my design to have a big impact,” Donnelly said in her statement about the art. Lacourse explained the inspiration of her design: “I remember from ‘Happy Feet’ the penguin with the plastic around its neck, and we watched a video in class about sea turtles and jellyfish.”
There’s a saying that when you throw away a plastic bag, there is no “away.” We realize that as EcoLeaders and strive to help other people see that, too.
The winning bags will be for sale in our community in early April!
The authors of this article are students in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District Careerline Tech’s Natural Resources class, taught by Avril Freeman. The Natural Resources and Conservation program prepares student for careers in environmental science, sustainability, and recreation. Through hands-on, project-based field work, students gain the skills and knowledge they need to succeed regardless of whether they attend college or enter the workforce.
This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.
ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.