Earth Day Activities

As Earth Day approaches, we become more aware as to our purpose as environmentalists. Hopefully, those around us do, as well. As you all know, our fight is far from over. We still have progress to make in climate change and in other issues. There are many environmental activities going on around campus and the nation in preparation for this momentous occasion! One of which is taking place back home. In Marion, volunteers are going to work on cleaning up Downtown Marion in an effort to boost the image of our city! There is also a collection taking place for hazardous materials and electronic devices in Marion and Morrow Counties.

The highlight of the month’s activities is an event in which Kelsey, Roger, MacKenzie, and I have been working very diligently on since the beginning of the year. It is this Thursday, and is called “That’s A Rapp!”. This event is the culmination of every student’s hard work throughout the year as we draw to a close. We celebrate in our achievements, while also reminding everyone of the effects that Mason itself contributes toward environmental issues. This event is moreso gearing toward a general sustainability theme, while also incorporating aspects of other fields of sustainability, mostly energy conservation. I talk about this, because it is something that is very near and dear to my heart. I never thought that we would get to this point. I never thought that we would be ready. This event will feature a Kahoot! trivia session, documentary viewing, craft-making sessions, a relay race, item raffles, and so much more!

As Earth Day quickly approaches, let us continue to spread our message of sustainable lifestyles and inspire others to live as we do. It is our time! We will change the world with our continued efforts! Events like these have been known to change lives! Let us continue to do so! May God bless you all!

 

Working at WYSE

A couple weeks ago, I received an email from the director of WYSE regarding an application that I had sent in earlier this year. The application was an application to become a Junior Faculty Adviser for WYSE. The director accepted me into the family.
As a J.F.A., I will be assisting the faculty group leader in carrying out day-to-day tasks during the conference. To come back to WYSE has been a dream of mine since the day I left two summers ago. Like I said in my previous post, WYSE had a profound effect on me, in the sense of where I want to go to college and where I want my life to go. My passion for the environment had never been stronger in my life than during WYSE. My dream is to bring same passion to the students that I will be working with.
As an intern for the Washington Scholars Program, it has been my honor to help with many admissions events here at Mason. I have had the opportunity of meeting wonderful bright people who are passionate about their quest for higher education. I have also had the pleasure of preparing for the summer conferences (Washington Youth Summit on the Environment and Washington Journalism and Media Conference). I ask that all of you will continue to be passionate about the things that you care most about.

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE)

Approximately three years ago, I received a letter in the mail from George Mason University. I had no idea what was going to be inside the envelope. I opened it to see an invitation to this thing called the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment. Only 250 students from across the country are allowed to participate in this hallowed event. Long story short, after many months of frustration, crying, fundraising, and rainy afternoons, I was able to pay the $1,925 needed to attend the conference. I was nominated as a result of my academic excellence and my interest in sustainability. Were it not for that letter, I would not be here today.

The conference brought together 250 like-minded high school students for a week of enrichment, expansion in our knowledge of environmental troubles and sustainability, amongst other things. The conference was June 23-28, 2013, just three days after my birthday! I was only one of four people that went from Ohio. This conference was a gateway that led to many new things in my life. It was a time for my first flight and my first visit to Washington, D.C. This conference solidified my wanting to participate in politics.

There were many field visits and speakers that were part of the conference. One of those speakers was the the director of the Bureau of Reclamation. I visited the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, participated in a discussion on the Klamath River Basin in Oregon and the disputes occurring between locals and the Native Americans. Ladies and gentlemen, I suggest that you tell your friends in high school about this conference. It has changed my life. It is what brought me here to Mason.

I was very intrigued by this, due to the recent news coverage of the White Rhinos. I find it to be absolutely appalling that people kill these creatures for the ivory in their horns. While yes, I do understand that some people depend on poaching to sustain themselves, I think that there is a much better way to go about living their lives. What that way is…I do not know. But, there is a way. I will figure it out. In third grade, I did a project on rhinos, which at the time, were my favorite creatures, and to see how much their population has depleted throughout the years is, as I said before, appalling. We all know what the course of this species is. May God grant them a peaceful death.

Sustainability and Youth in Government (Ohio)

At the beginning of my Junior year of high school, I decided to join an organization that involves high school students from across the state in the world of politics in the State of Ohio. This group is called Youth In Government. Also called YIG, the organization holds two conferences every year. One being in the fall, and the other in the spring. The Fall Conference is often called the Fall Leadership Conference, which takes place at a campground owned by the YMCA somewhere in the state. The Spring Conference is the much-anticipated State Assembly at the Statehouse in Columbus, where nearly 500 students attend in order to fill the role of the State’s leaders, whether it be in the Judicial branch, Legislative, or Executive.

I was in YIG junior and senior year, and both years participated in the legislative branch as a Committee Chair. I saw this organization as an amazing opportunity for me to dip my toes into the world of politics and to introduce my ideas to others.

My first year, I created a bill which would levy a tax of approximately .75% on all factories in Ohio burning more than 50% fossil fuels after a period of about one year. If you would like more information on this bill, please contact me personally. This bill passed in committee narrowly with a vote of 9 for and 7 against. The bill proceeded to the Senate floor, where it passed by a large majority. My bill made its last stop at the Youth Governor’s desk. This was the moment that drove me insane, because her cabinet was very much against this bill. I am waiting, hoping, praying, dying, crying, sweating, panting, as I am in the Senate chambers during the closing ceremony as the Youth Governor is reading off the bills that were signed. Bill after bill was read as she got closer and closer to mine. I was hoping that she wouldn’t skip over it (skipping means that it was not signed). She comes to the bill and reads it! I was the happiest person alive at that point! I have never felt more accomplished in my life!

Then, comes Senior year. I introduced a bill to promote the purchase and use of environmentally-friendly vehicles. It just so happened that I presented my bill in front of my OWN committee. I knew that I was a shoe-in, because no one was paying attention, we were running severely behind schedule, and everyone was dying to get some lunch. It passed unanimously in committee. The floor session…that is a different story. We were moved to one of the hotel conference rooms for the floor session that included my bill, because the actual chambers were being used for other sessions. My partner and I are scared to death at this point. We walk up to the front of the room, present the bill, talk about the bill, and…we open the floor for debate. We were bombarded with points of the detrimental effects that this bill would have on the economy. When that point was made, I was rearing to give this person a reality check. This bill is only a bill to promote the purchase and use of green vehicles. I don’t understand where he came up with that point. Many other points were made, and debate was closed. Voting began. The resulting outcome was debilitating. An overwhelming defeat sent my partner and I were sent to our seats with our work destroyed and our world having come crashed down.

I certainly hope that you have still have friends in high school. If so, mention this program to them. If it is not something already happening at their school, urge them to start. If you have any questions regarding the bills, please contact me personally and I would be happy to discuss them with you.

Sustainability Issues with Mason Dining

I find it highly irritating that Mason Dining claims to be becoming more sustainable when it leaves every possible light on in the dining halls after closing. I love the fact that they are switching to using produce grown on campus and bringing in food made locally, but I do not understand why, at Southside especially, the lights are left on every day. I do understand that it is used partly to prevent burglaries, however, there are too many lights being left on. I would be okay with the entrance lights being left on and a few lights in the actual dining area, but to have every single light on…is just ridiculous. Another issue that I have is that, also at Southside, all the televisions are left on. This leaves open the option of having light switches in the dining halls that would be programmed to keep the lights on from open until close. I came up with this idea after the class made a trip last week to the greenhouse in President’s Park.

When we went to the greenhouse last week, I was absolutely astonished by what was occurring inside. I had never ventured inside of a greenhouse before last week’s visit. I was fascinated by the type of soil used for the plants and how it was created. When we were shown the LED lights used during times of darkness, I could not bear to look directly at them, but I remember several times this semester, walking by the greenhouse while I was on my way to Ike’s and noticing the purple-ish glow coming from the greenhouse. I loved how the lights were programmed to be on for a period of time and turn off with no one managing it. I think if Mason Dining started to do this, they could save the a lot of money for the university.

The Impact of Recycling in Marion County, Ohio and Surrounding Counties

This year, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Angela Carbetta, leader of many environmental projects and the same person that hired me to be Lucky the Ladybug during an event at the Marion County Visitor Bureau. Angela has inspired me to better my life and the lives of others around me through increasing my efforts to better the Earth. I did this by simply encouraging others to recycle. It amazes me how many people still do not recycle! It also amazes me how people can just sit back and do nothing. Anyway, Angela is the director of Marion County Recycling and Litter Prevention and has been the head of Marion’s Eco-Arts Festival, which occurs every October. The festival features many items that are made out of ordinary household items that were not recycled. In a way, they are ultimately recycled as a result of this artwork. Angela has placed recycling hoppers at very important strategic locations throughout the region in Marion, Delaware, Knox, and Morrow Counties. There are four hoppers in Marion County placed at Ridgedale, River Valley, and Pleasant High School and in the village of New Bloomington. She indirectly inspired me to create my club, the Environmentalists Club at Ridgedale, my high school. I created it in the seventh grade. At its peak, the club had over 40 members with five members a part of the administration. As President, I led many efforts at Ridgedale, such as the planting of new trees on our unused practice fields, starting composting, creating gardens, and working with the Ridgedale Leo Club with the Adopt-A-Highway program. Due to administrative conflicts, I had to disband the club. As a member of the Ridgedale Leo Club, I led projects, such as eye glass and battery recycling. For many years, I was looked up to by many people for my leadership skills and knowledge. Saving the Earth has been something I have been very passionate about. For a very long time, my parents never recycled, and when I asked them why, they said “It is too much work.” I think that is the problem that many people have today. They all think that recycling is a lot of work. While yes, there are some things that you need to make sure you are doing, it does not take up a lot of time to just take a water bottle and put it in the receptacle.