Spotlight on Whitmer Science and Environmental Club

Whitmer Group CYS photoBy Jeff MacKenzie, Teacher of Environmental and Physical Science, Whitmer High School

Clean Your Streams has been an annual event for students at Whitmer High School for the past 12 years. I started bringing students when I was an FFA advisor and I was teaching an Environmental Systems career class. Students and other folks as well, sometimes feel that there is nothing that they can do about cleaning up the environment or other important issues. To counter that, we became involved with Clean Your Streams. I wanted my students to know that they can make a difference and feel a sense of empowerment in the environment. It also gives them an opportunity to have a positive impact on their community.

Unfortunately my career program and the FFA that went with it, no longer exist at Whitmer. However, there are still many students at Whitmer who care deeply about protecting our environment. So, a few years ago I started a Science and Environmental Club to put that passion to good use. Those students have carried on some of our traditions, including Clean Your Streams. This year, we were able to take second place in the Battle of the Bags picking up 29 bags of trash along with a garage door and other bulky items. Not only did current students participate this year, but I also had some Science and Environmental Club alumni help out. I also had one FFA alumni who is now a teacher herself return and help us out as a Site Captain. As one of my students, Sky, put it “Clean Your Streams was an experience like no other. I had too much fun being with my friends and doing something good for the environment with them.”

CYS is important for the work it does in cleaning up the watershed, but it is also important because it gives us the opportunity to instill the spirit of stewardship in our youth. Standing on the bank of the Ottawa River watching my students pick up trash on a Saturday morning (when they could be sleeping in) gave me the sense that the future of the environmental movement is in good hands.