Old Rochester Regional High School’s Environmental Club met last week to discuss their goals for the remainder of the school year. The club, consisting of about ten students, is planning to create a video about energy for the NSTAR Challenge program. As well as this, they have their hearts set on attending the annual Massachusetts Envirothon in May.
Lynn Connor, a science teacher at ORRHS, has been the advisor for Environmental Club for twelve years. She hopes the video contest will be a fun way to educate the community about issues regarding energy. NSTAR Challenge, the program running the video contest, requires the students to create a five-minute documentary about energy awareness.
“It’s basically an energy assessment for the school and energy ideas to get out to the public,” explained Connor, “and hopefully we’ll be able to put it on the TV station, Bulldog TV.”
Along with the video contest, the Environmental Club is taking on an even bigger challenge – the Massachusetts Envirothon. The Envirothon is an annual state-wide competition regarding four main topics: wildlife, soil, forestry, and aquatics. Students participating in this academic competition also have to give a presentation on the year’s current issue. This year, the current issue is sustainable local agriculture.
ORR’s Environmental Club has participated in the Envirothon before, but not in recent years. “We haven’t done it for a while because [of] the expense,” said Connor. This year, the Envirothon is in Leominster, and between registration and bus fees, the cost of attending the event can near $800.
Thus, the club is planning on doing some more fundraising. They sold candy bars earlier in the year, but the earnings weren’t quite enough. Before the competition in May, the students will have a lot of preparing to do, including research, studying, and fundraising.
Between the video contest and the Envirothon, the students of Environmental Club are also planning a beach clean-up for the spring. With everything they have planned for the future, one can only imagine what the club has accomplished in the past.
This past fall, the club volunteered at local clean-ups. They cleared some of the paths behind the school, and also worked with the Mattapoisett Land Trust to clean-up an overgrown blueberry patch. The blueberry patch clean-up was a favorite among the students.
“We also regularly attend Bioneers by the Bay,” said Connor, “It’s about environmental and social justice, and it’s a series of key note speakers, performers, and workshops.”
This world-wide gathering only has two locations in the United States – one in California, and the other in New Bedford, Massachusetts. It’s a four day event, but the Environmental Club usually attends just one day together. This event, usually one of the club’s first activities, takes place at the end of October each year.
A couple of years ago, the Environmental Club made a name for themselves in the halls of ORR by littering to make a point. They created a display with plastic bags in the school’s courtyard, hoping to encourage students to recycle or use canvas bags when shopping.
“There’s 10,000 plastic bags in the United States per minute that are not recycled, that are thrown away, or end up in the environment,” said Connor, “So that was the message, and it was pretty ugly.”
As the year progresses, the new members of Environmental Club will continue to make a name for themselves. All of their actions encourage others in the community to recycle, conserve energy, and respect the environment.
By Renae Reints