Student Environmental Action Club

We are educating students about the environment, how they are connected to it, and encouraging them to take action in their communities.

Photo of Lenka Platt
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Please confirm you meet the following criteria

  • We have submitted the supplemental form linked in the description above
  • We are aged between 14 - 20 as of February 11, 2021
  • We live in the United States or its territories (Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa)
  • We are not employed by, or directly related (parents or siblings) to a current General Motors (GM) or Ashoka employee
  • We have been working on this project for at least three months
  • We consent to Ashoka and/or GM featuring our work on their website, social media, and in other materials regarding this Challenge using the information in our application
  • We confirm we have the rights to use and share any content uploaded on this entry form

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram- @seac.2107 https://sites.google.com/myhalifax.us/vefd-2020/home

Date You Started Your Project

09/2017

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There is a lack of environmental education and action that students are exposed to in our community. Being informed about the environment and why it matters to each student personally is important for setting the foundation for this generation to make educated choices that affect the environment.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

By holding an Environmental Field Day (EFD) and forming the Student Environmental Action Club (SEAC), we are working to educate students and have them take action that helps the environment and builds habits for their futures. In SEAC, passionate students learn more about the environment through hands-on learning at school and on field trips where they can learn more about the issues in-depth, as well as take action to help the environment. Students also learn to educate others by giving presentations to the group on issues they have learned about through SEAC. At EFD, presenters from across PA come to the school (virtually last year) and present to students on different aspects of the environment that they feel connected to, or are interested in exploring more. Students take further action by participating in activities like tree plantings and collect data through stream studies to advocate for stream health.

3. Please tell us how you are using science, technology, engineering or math to address your environmental challenge.

At EFD, professionals teach students by presenting on a wide variety of topics relating to STEM and the environment. We not only do our own research on the validity of the information we are presenting, but we also pull in professionals from STEM fields to further explain and break down concepts and ideas. We use STEM to approach all problems and environmental issues within our club. STEM skills were used in a research project about environmental education at Halifax Area School District that found the following from 94 responses: 63 (67.7%) are interested in learning more about environmental impacts; 73 (77.7%) are interested in taking action to help remedy some environmental issues; 85 (90.4%) agreed that environmental issues are important to them; 88 (93.6%) agreed that environmental education is important for students. Out of the 44 middle school responses for formative environmental events, 23 mention SEAC events, including EFD. The 36 high school responses had 12 mentions (only the ninth grade of high school had participated in SEAC activities).

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In my 7th grade life science class, I discovered my passion for the environment because of my teacher and mentor. It was an amazing class where I learned all about cells to ecology. This is where I also took my first trip with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. From then on, I worked with this teacher and took every trip I could with CBF. In the beginning of 10th grade, my teacher recommended me to join the CBF PA Student Leadership Council where I created an action project that would be to start an environmental club and event at my school. Thus, SEAC was created and that spring our first EFD was held. By working with my mentor, I created the first environmental education event at Halifax. These past few years, I have worked to expand SEAC from just the few original members to the 40 people that it has today (which is large for our school). Our events have expanded each year.

5. Video (Keep it simple, your phone on selfie-mode is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

SEAC worked with the school administration to implement our project, as well as with different local environmental organizations. We built up our club and found passionate students to be involved. We hold a yearly Environmental Field Day, as well as other smaller events, and have the club go on trips to get hands-on experience to learn and take action. One year we planted 50 trees at our school.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

This is a student-run club where members gain the skills to become leaders. Our school is in a low income community where environmental education has not been a priority. Instead of working on a few action projects by ourselves, we wanted to educate students on what they could do, teaching them to take action, and build habits that will follow them through their lives. Our group of passionate students learn on trips and special activities, taking what they have learned to educate their peers. We are giving every student the opportunity to learn and lead in a variety of impactful ways.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made.

Over 200 students participate in Environmental Field Day each year. One of our action projects resulted in students planting 50 trees at our school. We plan on planting many more. We are also working on creating storm drain stenciling in our community to raise awareness that pollutants can end up in the Susquehanna River through these storm drains. Continuing to make our school more environmentally friendly, we are starting a composting project and reworking the old greenhouse at the school. Our website reached hundreds of students at our last event, and our videos continue to impact new viewers. Statistics can be found in question three about the impact our club has on our local community. Our work has been featured in local newspapers and television broadcasts.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We want to increase our impact by expanding and adding new projects. Restoring the school greenhouse is our next big project and students will help run it. Other goals include having more tree plantings, doing storm drain stenciling in the community, and allowing club members to work on projects that they are passionate about. We would love to expand our network and have more schools be involved in similar work. We are working on creating resources that we can provide to others, so that they can continue this work. Students are also working on more action projects that include ideas like composting, reducing plastic waste, and eventually increasing our greenhouse capabilities to include hydroponics.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

In the beginning, it was just a few students and a mentor working on these projects. As we communicated more about what we were doing, our membership grew to dozens of passionate students. Now, SEAC members are taking ideas that are important to them and bringing them to life. At a camp we held for elementary students, I had a session on hellbenders, the PA state amphibian, and I was elated to hear that they remembered what they were from a previous SEAC event.

11. How would you partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We would like to expand the projects that we are doing locally and have what we do be repeated in other schools around the state and beyond. Our club is called the Student Environmental Action Club, not the "Halifax" club or something that would limit our impact. One of our upcoming projects is to create a toolkit guide and advice for other leaders. We also plan to hold info sessions, participate in virtual networking sessions, and connect and support others through social media.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Environmental education is extremely important for many reasons. This education affects the economy, politics, and many other aspects of our lives. By teaching students to take action and providing the foundational education on how they impact the environment and how this affects their futures, they will hopefully make informed decisions in the future. We plan to engage with other organizations like Girl and Boy Scouts, the local YMCA, and additional local groups, and then spread from there.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Donations less than $100

14. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you? You’ll be able to select only one option.

  • Marketing Strategy

Are you employed, or directly related (grand-parents, parents, sibling) to a GM or Ashoka employee?

  • No

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Email

Evaluation results

29 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 82.1%

Probably - 14.3%

Maybe - 3.6%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 79.3%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 13.8%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 6.9%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 65.5%

4 - Yes, I think so - 17.2%

3 - Maybe - 6.9%

2 - Probably not. - 6.9%

1 - No - 3.4%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 20.8%

3 - Maybe - 4.2%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 79.3%

4 - Yes, I think so - 10.3%

3 - Maybe - 6.9%

2 - Probably not - 3.4%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 79.3%

4- Yes, I think so - 17.2%

3- Maybe - 3.4%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 92.3%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 69.2%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 92.3%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 100%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 69.2%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 65.4%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 6.7%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 40%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 6.7%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 40%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 33.3%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 0%

12 comments

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Spam
Photo of Tia Johnston Brown
Team

I love how much you have done to encourage environmental awareness in your community. I’d love to hear more specific plans for expansion as well as how you have adjusted due to covid.

Spam
Photo of Lenka Platt
Team

We have a SEAC group that is currently forming at a nearby technical school. We are also in communication with other students/teachers who are interested in the vents that we hold.
We are also working to create a virtual toolkit of activities and guidance for others to take to their schools and we will advertise this when completed.
With covid, we have made a transition to virtual experiences. For our last major event, we made videos, held virtual zoom events, and created a website with activities for students. For our event coming up, we are planning both in person and virtual options and are ready to switch back to just virtual if necessary.
We also have a virtual option for all of our meetings and those that attend in person meetings follow covid protocols. This also allows us to widen our group so students who are not at our school can attend the meetings and gives me the ability to lead meetings when away at college.

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