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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Environmental Club hopes to provide a leadership driven community while educating students

Lily Ohlman
Members of the environmental club at one of their cleanups last fall.

Through after-school cleanups in the fall and project-based activities in the winter, FHC’s environmental club strives to raise awareness of the detrimental natural conditions on planet Earth while encouraging fellow students to increase their leadership skills.

Senior Hannah Levering joined the environmental club last year after one of her cheer teammates encouraged her to do so. Since attending her first meeting, Hannah has found a welcoming community and quickly became one of the club’s presidents this year. 

“Environmental club was definitely one of my favorite clubs that I’ve ever joined,” Hannah said. “I’m glad I got the privilege to be one of the leaders with some other great leaders because I can tell we’re all passionate about the environment and want to help out our school.”

For fellow senior Keaton Michalski—co-president of the environmental club—joining the environmental club has been a great source of joy and passion. Being able to apply his interest in the Earth in school around friends has been extremely rewarding.

Additionally, the environment has been part of Keaton’s family culture for years. Similar to Hannah, he also thought it would be beneficial to gain leadership experience in high school. 

“I wanted to join the club because I’ve been very environmentally involved in my life,” Keaton said. “It’s a big thing in my family. We do a lot of fishing and feeding wild animals and stuff like that. So I thought [environmental club] would be a great club to join, and I really wanted to gain leadership later in high school. I joined in my sophomore year.”

Since the establishment of FHC, an environmental club has always been present to educate and inspire students. In addition, people taking environmental science find ways to connect with and impact their community by monitoring their use of electricity and their food choices, as those two seemingly small decisions make the most significant impact on the Earth. 

Environmental science teacher Chad Scholten strives to disseminate these ideals of becoming more nature-conscious as much as possible. Electricity usage by a single person can lead to more natural or nuclear gas emissions, and food choices can substantially affect energy consumption. Food is especially a simple option that can be regulated, seeing as it’s an often overlooked issue. 

“We can look at some of the issues, whether it’s fossil fuels that are needed to run the machinery to grow the plants that you feed the animal to ship around, or we can look at too much nitrogen or phosphorus that we put on the soil,” Scholten said. “So if you know how your food is being produced and grown and shipped, you’ll be more educated in terms of the choices that you make.”

Electricity and food choices are a part of nearly every person’s everyday life, displaying how each person can make a difference in the world’s lands and oceans. If more people knew about the effect they have on the planet, it would be easier for positive change to occur. For Scholten—the environmental club advisor for twelve years and counting— the Earth’s health has never been a more crucial world issue than now.

“I think [we’ve] come to the realization that there is a finite amount, whether we talk about fossil fuels, habitats, or a species,” Scholten said. “There’s enough gloom and doom like we’re using up our freshwater resources or losing plant or animal species around the planet. I think it’s like, if you see someone bleeding, you want to go over there and stop the bleeding. If you see some issues with the planet, you want to make sure that people are aware of them so they can stop the harm from happening.” 

If you see some issues with the planet, you want to make sure that people are aware of them so they can stop the harm from happening.

— Chad Scholten

On the weekly club excursions members make to the parking lot and surrounding areas, students will usually find extremely odd items while picking up trash, such as Little Caesars pizza boxes, business cards, and more. With a successful turnout, members gather about six or seven bags of trash found around the high school. 

In addition to weekly cleanups, club presidents recently established a new activity to attempt to maintain the school’s food waste output. Shortly, an organic waste bin will be set up in the lunchroom to allow students to become more environmentally conscious. Afterward, the bin’s contents will then be composted, producing a natural way for waste to be thrown away.

Keaton believes that simple activities such as recycling and composting are also significant factors in a person’s carbon footprint that can be easily regulated with some time and care. 

“Recycling is definitely a big [factor],” Keaton said. “Throwing stuff away is probably our biggest issue that we see a lot. “Taking stuff to the trash isn’t that hard. Composting is another one. If you’re trying to grow your own food, [that’s good] if you want to go down that route, but the biggest thing is definitely just watching how much you use up and trying to minimize your waste.”

Hannah recently took a trip to Florida for winter break, where she saw enormous ocean pollution. The waterways were filled with oil and harmful trash. Having witnessed the devastation that artificial items are making on the natural world, Hannah feels students must become aware of their surroundings and hopefully join the environmental club. It is one of the more beneficial clubs currently in school, formulating a healthier atmosphere. Students can also find personal connections and profits from joining.

In the past decade, the Earth’s health has taken a massive turn for the worse, with ocean temperatures and pollution rising, causing marine animals to perish from unnatural circumstances and coral reefs to bleach in staggering amounts. In 2023, 21 species were declared extinct, with over 44,000 remaining on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The greenhouse gas emissions were at an all-time high in 2023: about 59 gigatons of carbon-equivalent greenhouse gasses, which is 2,000 tons per second. With conditions only predicted to worsen—unless extreme circumstances change—Hannah urges her companions to take action.

“The environment is one of the most important things in our world,” Hannah said. “If our environment goes down, then humanity goes down with it. We have to start small at our school, and if you start small, then you know [the impact] will grow bigger.”

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About the Contributor
Maylee Ohlman, Staff Writer
Maylee Ohlman is a sophomore going on to her first year on The Central Trend.  She spontaneously decided to join Writing for Publication this year and is now excited to keep writing for the rest of her time in high school.  She is part of the FHCVDT and plans to also keep dancing for many years.  In her free time, she loves to read and try new bubble tea spots across Grand Rapids.  She loves to feel like a tourist anywhere she goes and aspires to travel as much as she can in her lifetime.  She is enthused to begin writing for The Central Trend this year. Favorite book: Better than the Movies by Lynn Painter Favorite TV show: The Last of Us Go-to bubble tea order: A peach milk tea with lychee jelly and tapioca pearls

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