Evergreen Committee: Digging Deep, Branching Out for a Greener FC
By Riley Cockram--Eagle Staff Writer
All across the world, many are making choices to live more environmentally friendly, such as recycling, limiting their use of plastic, or going vegetarian. Even here on campus, there are opportunities to care for the environment. That’s where the Evergreen Committee steps in. With a whopping 39 members, the club puts their green thumbs together to make FCHS a cleaner, greener place.
“Like it or not, our school does have an impact on the environment - and a heavy one at that," Jamie Brooks, senior and club member, expressed. "Taking care of 2,200 students means a lot of trash, a lot of electricity, and a lot of gas. All of these things cause problems, be it habitat destruction from the campus itself, waterway pollution from the insane amount of garbage we generate, or air pollution from getting everyone here. While the situation is massive, we can still come up with solutions and initiatives to mitigate the effects that we have on our surrounding ecosystems and communities.”
The club was created for several reasons, not just to solve local environmental problems.
“If I’m being honest, the merit of our club comes from two different places. Sure, doing things for the environment is very important, and I love that we have a platform in order to make change for our school, but I believe that the most important thing about the Evergreen Committee is that it gives our members an opportunity to feel empowered and equipped to go out of their comfort zone and do things for the environment that they normally wouldn’t feel comfortable doing, such as presenting ideas to peers, or talking to administrators about new initiatives," described Sarah Vincent, junior and club president. "We are always scared of failing when we try something new, but I think the Evergreen Committee does a wonderful job of erasing that fear and fostering the activism our community needs.”
The Evergreen Committee participates in a wide variety of environmental activities, both in and out of the classroom.
“Currently, our main project is the recycling initiative, but we have also made environmentally-friendly soap and we also made our own recycled paper,” explained Brayden Wical, sophomore and club member.
Vincent went into more detail.
"We’ve been implementing paper recycling around the school, along with planning several different booths at the upcoming Earth Day Expo," she listed. "Along with that, we have several after school meetings where we seek to educate our own members, such as going through online courses about sustainability, having group discussions about our personal environmental impact, deciding what initiatives we want to focus on in the coming school year, and much more.”
To inspire long lasting change, the club has been collaborating with others on and off-campus.
“We are working with Troy Kaase who is the Science Club coordinator. We think that the Evergreen Committee pairs well with the Science Club," Chekka Lash, club sponsor and science teacher commented.
As Lash mentioned, the Evergreen Committee seems to have built a strong connection with their members and partners, of course, but also with peers and leaders who aren't in the club.
“We work on environmental projects but truly we have the most fun just by meeting up and talking about the things we have in common. We have made a nice sense of community within the club,” shared Wical. “I have [also] noticed that a lot of faculty/staff are supportive of our efforts, which is always great to see!”
Wical and his peers hope this enthusiasm spreads through the halls of campus to reach all students, teachers, and admin.
“Renewable energy on campus has been something I’ve wanted to see for a long time, but I would also like to see general environmental consciousness increase in the school," Brooks said. "We tend to leave the welfare of the earth at the door of the science classroom, but seeing as this is not just a scientific issue, but a social one as well, it really should permeate into just about every setting at school. I’m not saying we teach the mathematics of climate change in math classrooms, or focus on environmentalism in social studies. What I am saying is that sustainability initiatives, be it composting programs, green energy, habitat conservation and similar plans need to be just as important as other campus improvements. In order to make a difference, we need to make sure that environmentalism goes beyond the classroom door.“
This is just the beginning, though. The Evergreen Committee has plans to spread their wings over all of Franklin County so all can try to make change.
"I would love it if the Evergreen Committee could be a driving force of change in our community! The change starts at the individual level, but it can be accelerated if there's a top down approach. It would be amazing if our school could empower students to be environmental leaders," Lash aspired. "I believe the young people in our community can be agents of change and our community members will listen if the message is clear and the change is actionable. I grew up here and never heard climate change mentioned, and I think it's great that climate is an issue that is covered in science standards and the students here feel empowered and passionate about making a change. How cool would it be if the motivation and sustainable actions didn't stop at our doors and extended into the community?"
Along with promoting their club on campus, the Evergreen Committee is beginning to create content on social media.
"We are active on Instagram and beginning accounts on multiple other platforms in order to spread the word about our club," Vincent said describing their new TikTok, FaceBook, and YouTube accounts.
As mentioned earlier, the club is well-staffed as is, but students interested in joining the Evergreen Committee are still encouraged to get in touch with Lash in 245 Tech A or talk with Vincent or any club member to see if they can help out.
"We meet with groups 1&2 in Ramsey 134, Mr. Kaase's room. We also stay after periodically to do activities - like soap and paper making or to plan for events," Lash offered. "There's a great group of students in the club, and I think anybody who is interested in the environment, science, or sustainability should join."