The Environmental Club plants seeds for change


Libby Janson

Planting seedlings in a garden at school, freshman Maura Collins, along with Environment Club, plans to donate the produce to Parkway Food Pantry once it is grown. The club began this year with the help of English teacher Casey Holland and wants to spread awareness about the environment through gardening projects and information about being environmentally friendly. “I’m passionate about the environment because my mom always loved gardening, so I spent a lot of my childhood outside,” Collins said. “I want to specialize in sustainable urban planning, so I thought some exposure from the club might be good.”

In an attempt to promote green living and a healthy lifestyle, the Environmental Club began planting vegetables to donate to the Parkway Schools Food Pantry.

“After being at this school for two years, I’ve recognized the need for environmental activism. I have always loved all things nature, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to incorporate my interests into productive activity,” sophomore Zoe Rutledge said.

Sponsor Casey Holland was approached by Rutledge and asked to be a sponsor of the club. Holland says gardening is a personal hobby and was interested in helping build a garden on campus.

“Being the sponsor of this group is easy,” Holland said.  “We just all agreed on a time to meet, and they are very motivated to incorporate new ideas into so much. I am just here as a sounding board or here to answer any of their questions.”

Club members began planting onions and green beans in the two raised beds that are 9 inches deep and four feet wide and four feet long behind the Athletic Director’s office.

“We have cucumber, tomato and bell pepper sprouts that we are growing in Mr. Holland’s room that are completely ready to be planted outside as well; we are just waiting for the last frost to pass before we put them in the ground,” Rutledge said.

A total of $230 was needed to make the garden. Teachers and students raised $130 internally, and Rutledge donated $100 of her own money.

“We received a few donations from generous friends and teachers, but the rest of the costs were covered by Mr. Holland and myself. It was a little costly, but in years to come we will already have a good amount of materials that we can reuse so there will be less to get,” Rutledge said.

Over the summer, the club plans to maintain the garden with student volunteers.

I really think that there is so much possibility for what we could be doing to help the world around us. It’s our planet, and we need to take care of it.”

— Zoe Rutledge

“We are going to set up a spreadsheet so we have someone who will go and check up on the garden. There is a water spigot down by where the garden is located and that is where we will get our water from over the summer. We mainly need to make sure that the plants are growing the right way and that they are getting watered at least once or twice a week,” Rutledge said.

Along with their summer plans, next year the club will set up a pollinator garden as well as a living wall behind Blue Brew.

“I hope that more people join,” club member and freshman Maura Collins said. “I also really hope that we get more projects because if we have more impact on the school that would be really nice.”

In addition to these projects, the club encourages members and the community to lead a lifestyle where one minimizes their carbon footprint.

We work with the individuals in our group to reduce the amount of electricity and fuel they consume in their daily lives. For example, carpooling, switching out household appliances and cleansers for recycled versions of them and aiming to buy low-waste products to try and lessen the amount of waste they produce,” Rutledge said.

The club will hold a meeting where they will propose a month-long challenge to produce only a mason jar full of waste for the month.

“I will suggest trying to make food at home and not buying things from places so you don’t accumulate trash such as wrappers. [If people want to avoid] food waste, they should try to avoid paper products and use things such as towels and things you can wash besides things that make trash,” Rutledge said. “If we can get enough students and teachers involved, we can make a change, starting with our school and then the community around us. Since there are so many students, it really helps increase the magnitude of what we can do.”  

We just need to keep reminding ourselves to be environmentally conscious and do our best and help educate others.”

— Casey Holland

Looking to the future of the club, Holland feels that the club could have a lasting impact on the school and community.

I am excited to see how our garden grows in terms of doing more each year. I would really love for this to have a positive and lasting impact on our community. Our club, specifically, can have a major impact on our economy and our world, really. We just need to keep reminding ourselves to be environmentally conscious and do our best and help educate others,” Holland said.  

Feeling that the environment is an important aspect of everyone’s lives, Rutledge hopes to spread the message of environmental activism both in and out of school.

“I really think that there is so much possibility for what we could be doing to help the world around us. It’s our planet, and we need to take care of it,” Rutledge said. “I just think everyone needs to do their part to keep their planet healthy. While we’re trying to make our lives more eco-friendly, we’re also trying to make it a positive environment for everybody.”