Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Students come together to help aid the environment.

Rosie Frederick

Photo by MaryAnn Johnson

If you have a passion for protecting the environment, LHS’s Environmental club is the place to express it.

Science teacher Rick Knowles has been the club sponsor for the 21 years he’s worked at LHS. The team has a passion for the environment and water quality, as they survey the health of local streams, use chemical test kits and much more.

Knowles sets up hands-on experiences for the members so they can learn how to use the equipment correctly.

“Mr. Knowles taught us the second or third meeting of the year,” junior Sabrina Brooke said. “He taught us the reasons why and how we do the tests. He sets stations up a week or two before a clean-up trip, so we can learn about the equipment and how to use it.”

This club goes on regular highway and stream clean-up trips to keep the environment clean. They report their information back to Jefferson City’s Department of Natural Resources and tell them what they’ve found.

They also go on a trip out of state every few years.

“One fundraiser we’re doing right now is for the trip to the Omaha Zoo we’ve been planning for April,” Knowles said. “The club members have been selling candy bars for a few weeks to pay for a bus and gas. Some friends of mine who work there will take us behind the scenes. They’ll teach us about the endangered species, how they care for them, how they’re reintroduced into the wild and why we should care.”

The goal of this club is to better educate the students of LHS, along with presenting opportunities to better the environment, the community and the world. Club president, junior Carmen Caudillo, shared that their work is to slowly rid the world of deadly diseases.

Photo by MaryAnn Johnson

“We’re trying to make the world cleaner by taking trash and tires out of streams,” Caudillo said. “Tires are important to clean up because mosquitoes are drawn to them, and they can spread malaria.”

If a tire is not recycled correctly, then female mosquitoes can lay their eggs in them and become the source for West Nile and Malaria. The mosquito leaves and then bites you, moving from person to person spreading disease. A big thing in Missouri is West Nile, but Yellow Fever and the Zika Virus has also been found.

When you have a tire changed, you have to pay a fee to have it shredded so it can be used to be a pad underneath playground equipment, or melted into decking material, tarps, sporting grounds and mulch.

“When we do a stream cleanup, we find all kinds of spare tires because people don’t want to pay that fee,” Knowles said. “People will drive slow on 152 and throw it over the bridge, and it ends up in the water and it sits there for 50 to 80 years.”

Other than cleaning up highways and streams, some club members have their own projects, from recycling efforts to butterflies to birdhouses.

“I’m trying to get more recycling cans in the school,” sophomore Jackson Herrman said. “I want to make it easier and more accessible for students to recycle.”

Herrman takes this project seriously, which Brooke commends him for.

Photo by MaryAnn Johnson

“He met with Dr. Adams, Mr. Tate and he’s coordinated with the janitorial staff,” Brooke said. “He’ll have different stations around the school that will help keep the school environment clean. That was all led completely by him, so he’s definitely become a forefront person in this club.”

Herrman is not the only one in the club who has ideas to help the planet. Sophomore Ian Wooldridge has an idea to help migrating butterflies.

“Monarch butterflies fly through the Kansas City area both from Mexico and down from the north in the summertime,” Wooldridge said. “They need milkweed, which they eat and use as a habitat. Milkweed is native to Missouri.”

Wooldridge is trying to get approval from the Department of Conservation to get seeds and plant patches of milkweed across the city of Liberty. The club is planning to partner with William Jewell College along with any other one else who would like to participate in helping out the butterflies in Missouri.

For Earth Day, April 22, the club plans to paint or decorate bird houses and feeders. They plan to place them outside, around LHS in hopes of getting exposure.

“We’re making bird feeders; we team up with the special needs kids,” Caudillo said. “We’ll put them around the school and the outdoor classroom.”

Photo by Hannah Ollier

Knowles is passionate about the club’s mission and is excited about its future.

“I think student’s attitudes about the world and the planet are much better than mine,” Knowles said. “I am very proud of what young people are trying to do. I think anyone can make a difference.”