FHC Environmental Club encourages the practice of bettering lifestyles

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Abby Scutch, Editor in Chief

Fascinated by the rate in which the human species is harming our fragile ecosystem, senior Carly Anderson has gained motivation to take initiative on a sustainable lifestyle and participate in projects that better the environment, including her membership and leadership in the FHC Environmental Club.

Participants of the Environmental Club are very eager to be involved in projects that better the environment, such as beach cleanups in Grand Haven, water filter construction in coordination with the 20 Liters organization for families of third-world countries, and the Walk for Water, which raises awareness and money for the need of fresh, clean water in foreign countries.

Currently, Carly leads the Environmental Club by planning a majority of the club’s events and projects.

“Carly is a leader to the Environmental Club,” said Chad Scholten, an AP Environmental Science teacher and Environmental Club mentor. “ The club has always been student driven, which is how it should be. I’m really happy to see that they’re all willing and passionate about the environment.”

During the first semester of school, there is always enthusiasm and planning from students. Last year and this year, the Environmental Club has worked with 20 Liters, which is an organization that is trying to get clean water for different villages in Africa.

Being loosely structured compared to other clubs at FHC, the Environmental Club is student generated, meaning Scholten guides the members through the process of planning events while allowing them to do decide what they would like to be involved in.

According to Scholten, the students in Environmental Club want to better the environment, but are limited as to what they can do because problematic occurrences are not often seen in Michigan. It is difficult to make an effort from FHC when there are greater issues elsewhere in the world.

“The students are very passionate and very driven to do something for the environment,” Scholten said. “The challenge is to have an awareness for the globe, like for deforestation, poaching, and pollution, but what can do we do here in Michigan? It’s hard to do something practical and do something here, especially since there are greater issues to reach and help out.”

In the past, money raised from the Environmental Club have gone to the World Wildlife Fund cooperation for habitat preservation for endangered elephants and gorillas. The past two school years, the money has gone to 20 Liters to create water filters.

Carly has dedicated many summers outside of the United States devoting her time to improving the lives of others in several different countries. By searching for teen volunteer trips online, Carly came across Global Leadership Adventures, which is a group she went on a 10 day trip to the Dominican Republic with to work sustainable development projects such as building clinics and schools out of plastic bottles. Overall, Carly has spent one month in the Dominican Republic, two weeks in the Amazon of Peru, two weeks in Tanzania, and plans to return to the Dominican Republic as a mentor with 7 Elements and other service groups.

“During my first trip to the Dominican, I was walking around, picking up plastic bottles in a community, and a naked 3 year-old comes up and grabs my hand,” Carly said. “I was wearing all brand name clothing and he had nothing. How can one person have nothing while I have everything? This made me realize that although this world seems perfect to me, to others it’s a struggle to survive.”

Carly is disgusted with similar occurrences happening all over the world. This is how she was inspired to devote the rest of her spare time to shaping a career dedicated to improving the lives of others.

“I could go on and on about these trips and their wonderful model of human security on how to reduce poverty and improve development,” Carly said. “It helped me find a passion of exploring new cultures and recognizing that I am privileged at the expense of others around the world.”

Carly most likely plans to major in International Development and Public Health at Tulane University. She believes that these two majors can be integrated fairly easily, with her main focus being on public health, such as sanitation and disease in developing countries. To tie in International Development, she would focus on how the environment affects the wellbeing of citizens in correlation to the rates of poverty, and then implementing these topics to find sustainable development solutions to better the health of the public. After college, Carly plans to continue her education to become a doctor or epidemiologist.

“Some people question [why I travel], but the answer is simple: I want to change the world,” Carly said. “No, I cannot change the whole world, but I can change one person’s world and their view of this world, hence changing the world.”

Carly believes that an easy way to do so is through simple sustainable development projects, such as improving water sanitation thought water filters, which costs about $5 and provides clean water to a family of four for 15 years.

“It is such a simple solution and one that I can do as a young person to make a large impact with such a tiny donation,” Carly said. “It is this giving and helping others do that drive me to continue this work. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that 1,500 people now have a shot at life because of only two weeks and $300 spent on water filters. This is such a simple project with a vast reward.”

Teaching AP Environmental Science, Scholten’s life has been affected personally because he has to model what he teaches. For example, Scholten is cautious as to what he purchases, his diet, the vehicles he drives, and the type of energy he uses for his house. In terms of service projects, Scholten has worked with Habitat for Humanity to build homes.

Scholten continues by saying that he enjoys teaching AP Environmental Science because the skills lessoned in the class can be applied to several different fields, regardless of what one may study in college.

“I hope students will gain a perspective on where they’re thinking of somebody or some place other than themselves,” Scholten said. “There’s a contagiousness to wanting to help others after one person has a successful experience doing so.”

As well as leading the Environmental Club, he is also impacting his students’ lives by teaching the value of conserving.

“Mr. Scholten is such an amazing teacher and role model,” Carly said. “He truly practices what he teaches, as he always talks about bettering your own lifestyle in little ways to reduce your carbon footprint and lessens the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere [himself]. He has influenced me to implement what I learned in AP Environmental Science and apply it to my lifestyle to make a change.”

According to Scholten, it’s hard for teenagers to look past themselves and their image, but creating an awareness of other people, other cultures, or realizing their place in the globe is very important because the United States consumes more resources than necessary, making it not fair to citizens of other countries.

“If you really take this topic to heart, it should change your lifestyle,” Scholten said. “In the West, we consume far too much and we don’t want to hear it. It’s not until you spend time elsewhere that you realize that you can limit what you use.”

By modeling what he teaches, Scholten hopes that students will continue to show a passion in the environment and continue to practice what he teaches.

“When I see students passionate about the environment, it gives me hope,” Scholten said. “It’s not just me talking about these topics to a class because I see students wanting to take action to better the environment, which drives me to continue teaching and practicing skills that better lifestyles.”

According to Scholten, what a student eats, wears, or drives has an environmental impact and the decisions should be ones to be conscious of.

“The Environmental Club helps you change your own lifestyle and helps you become more aware of our deteriorating environment,” Carly said. “The club will hopefully instill an undying respect and love for nature and all its beauty and inspiration to continue protecting it.”