Pictured above from left to right: Kelly Olson, Somuayira Nsude, Dan Richardson, Figensia Alcenat, Oliver Johnson, Jackson Buch, Marcus Jensen, Maisie Pederson, Hoang Nguyen, Jorge Escutia-Cardenas, Mark Robinson, and Carlos Avila Dominguez.
Kennedy High School’s Green Club aims to improve local environmental issues through education, restoration, preservation and protection of the ever-endangered ecosystem.
“Green Club isn’t a club for the sake of existing. Students don’t join to put it on a college application or resume,” Green Club president Marcus Jensen said. “It’s a club because we need to do something to help save our planet in as many large or small ways as possible.”
It all began when a few students were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist and leading young spokesperson urging action from world governments on climate change. The student-led club was organized in 2019. With about 25 passionate students and two faculty advisors, they meet once a week to watch a short educational video or presentation on environmental issues, and then students come up with project ideas and work in small groups to make them happen.
During the pandemic, the Green Club organized and carried out a tree-planting project through Tree-Plenish, a nonprofit organization that recruits high school volunteers to help them plan tree-planting events. They successfully distributed and planted almost 200 trees, which is about the equivalent of annual paper usage by the school. Last fall, they helped out with a buckthorn bust at Nine Mile Creek. Also the Green Club organized some trash pickups at various parks across the city.
“Little things, but every little bit counts,” Jensen said. “I quickly realized that we (high schoolers) actually did have the power to change things for the better through this club, and I really started to put my heart into it.”
This spring, the Green Club plans to continue trash pickup efforts in the parks. Other projects they hope to accomplish include:
Installing a rain garden on school property in the spring.
Retrofitting the school recycling bins designed to fit paper only so that cans and bottles can easily be deposited in them.
Looking into ways to improve the ecological footprint of the school cafeteria.
Planning a redesign and beautification of a courtyard to encourage more outdoor activity during the school day.
For the Green Club, saving the planet means doing what they can do now in their community, and this is just the beginning. Faculty advisor Dan Richardson said, “Our focus is on looking for projects that we can plan and do in our own school environment and in Bloomington.”