During my time at Presentation High School, I have witnessed many inspiring events that showed me and my peers that we have the power to make a difference. From encouraging teachers, telling us that we have the ability to take the world by storm, to the common dialect among students about the next march they plan on attending, the environment at PHS nurtures leaders and advocates in the halls and classrooms.
However, regardless of how great of a job PHS does providing us opportunities for empowerment, we still fail to utilize all of them as best as we could.
An essential issue I have seen publicized is climate change discussions and student-led climate change strikes on campus, which aim to produce zero waste in students’ daily lives. One way that has been promoted to stop climate change and promote scientific research is the school-led science trips in the summer.
These trips are hosted every year by PHS faculty in collaboration with the Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit organization that connects teen and adult volunteers with in-the-field research projects across the globe.
The trip offered last year was a journey to Cuba organized by science teachers Megan Twiddy and Dr. Tracy Hughes, in which students researched about rainforests and the local climate.
NASA forecasted global temperatures to increase by 2.5-10 degrees in the next century, as recent as Nov. 20 As a student frustrated with the lack of response to the direction the environment had been heading, I decided to apply for the trip.
This was a bit of a jump for me, as a student who has never particularly excelled in science and plans to go into a more humanities-oriented career, but I was tired of waiting for politicians to do something. I wanted to do some hands-on work.
After being accepted and eagerly looking forward to the trip for almost a month, I received an email stating that only seven people applied — two of which dropped — so there were not enough students to go to Cuba.
Our faculty organizers then offered an alternative trip to the Bahamas to study sea turtles that PHS took a few years prior.
Unfortunately, after looking into this alternative trip, the facilities again could not accommodate us. This, in addition to the lack of students, provided a justified cause to cancel the trip.
I was disappointed, but undeterred as I continued to seek a science trip for that summer. I wanted to do something good, even if it was a brief trip, and I spoke to Dr. Hughes. She recommended I look into going on an Earthwatch trip independently and provided me with resources to go on a trip.
After canceling the trip, she still encouraged me to finish what I had started and helped me do so.
In the student body, I find opportunities like these science trips are overlooked and not as fully utilized as they should be.
When dealing with larger concepts such as climate change, it can certainly be difficult figuring out how to fix a problem on such a global scale. Education is the first step towards change, but in addition to seeing change, we also need to take action.
PHS may not have all the solutions, but there are a vast amount of opportunities offered to the entire student body.
The annual science trips are open to all students searching to make a difference, but they are not the only option for people wanting to enact change. There are plenty of ways for people who want something more relaxed or more affordable to get involved.
The Science Department is also an excellent resource to find new ways to help save the planet. Also, student-organized groups, like the Student Environmental Action Society, hold meetings and have optional off-campus volunteering opportunities.
If you care about the climate, find it in yourself to do more than post on social media, and try getting hands-on experience.