Sacramento students to launch environmental conservation projects after writing competition

Sometimes the best lessons that students learn in school are the ones they can take out of the classroom. That’s what motivated Mira Loma High School science teacher Colleen Kelly to start a class-wide assignment 10 years ago.“So often we just come to school and sit in front of our books and not get involved with the real-life part of it, ” Kelly said. Each year, each of her students is tasked with researching and writing an environmental action proposal designed to help preserve their local watershed. Those proposals are then entered into the Caring for Our Watersheds annual writing contest. “I think the experience researching and proposal writing is valuable,” said Franco Canet, who also has his students at Mira Loma High School submit entries. Contest winners receive cash prizes to help them implement their ideas. This year, four of the top ten entries came from Mira Loma High School. The winning ideas included starting an electronic waste collection system at the school, encouraging the use of biodegradable masks, creating lessons in hydroponic gardening and getting more people motivated to protect the environment through a social media campaign.Students were awarded anywhere from $600 to $1,000 to help them implement their ideas. “It’s not just something that we do in school. It’s a real-world thing that needs to be addressed by everyone,” said 11th grader Clara Nordahl. Nordahl’s idea for advocating for reducing plastic use took first place in the contest. She plans to build up a social media following this summer to advocate throughout the community.Classmate Nora Ransibrahmanakul used the project as an opportunity to reach out to business leaders in the hydroponics world. “And I really got to learn a lot about the technology and entrepreneurship,” Ransibrahmanakul said.Freshman student Benjamin Hartman took inspiration from lifestyle His goal is to encourage more people to use biodegradable masks to cut down on pollution. “If we can help the environment even a little bit by doing something small like implementing my solution, that would be really good,” Hartman said. And Celina Chen was motivated by a future goal of working in web development. “I really wanted to think about how my lifestyle might have a much bigger impact that I don’t see,” Chen said.Chen plans to establish e-waste collection centers at the school and other community sites. Kelly uses that to take her students on several field trips throughout the year.Those trips include kayaking on Lake Natoma and hiking around Folsom Lake.”And this way they are actually experiencing the environment, the ecosystem. How do you learn to want to save it if you’re not out there in it?” Kelly said.This year, students from five other Northern California schools received awards from the Caring for Our Watersheds writing contest. They include Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Grant Union High School, Foresthill High School, The MET Sacramento and George Washington Carver High School.More information on the contest and past winners can be found at the Caring for Our Watersheds homepage.

Sometimes the best lessons that students learn in school are the ones they can take out of the classroom.

That’s what motivated Mira Loma High School science teacher Colleen Kelly to start a class-wide assignment 10 years ago.

“So often we just come to school and sit in front of our books and not get involved with the real-life part of it,” Kelly said.

Each year, each of her students is tasked with researching and writing an environmental action proposal designed to help preserve their local watershed.

Those proposals are then entered into the Caring for Our Watersheds annual writing contest.

“I think the experience researching and proposal writing is valuable,” said Franco Canet, who also has his students at Mira Loma High School submit entries.

Contest winners receive cash prizes to help them implement their ideas. This year, four of the top ten entries came from Mira Loma High School.

The winning ideas included starting an electronic waste collection system at the school, encouraging the use of biodegradable masks, creating lessons in hydroponic gardening and getting more people motivated to protect the environment through a social media campaign.

Students were awarded anywhere from $600 to $1,000 to help them implement their ideas.

“It’s not just something that we do in school. It’s a real-world thing that needs to be addressed by everyone,” said 11th grader Clara Nordahl.

Nordahl’s idea for advocating for reducing plastic use took first place in the contest. She plans to build up a social media following this summer to advocate throughout the community.

Classmate Nora Ransibrahmanakul used the project as an opportunity to reach out to business leaders in the hydroponics world.

“And I really got to learn a lot about the technology and entrepreneurship,” Ransibrahmanakul said.

Freshman student Benjamin Hartman took inspiration from lifestyle changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. His goal is to encourage more people to use biodegradable masks to cut down on pollution.

“If we can help the environment even a little bit by doing something small like implementing my solution, that would be really good,” Hartman said.

And Celina Chen was motivated by a future goal of working in web development.

“I really wanted to think about how my lifestyle might have a much bigger impact that I don’t see,” Chen said.

Chen plans to establish e-waste collection centers at the school and other community sites.

Students also earn funding for their schools.

Kelly uses that to take her students on several field trips throughout the year. Those trips include kayaking on Lake Natoma and hiking around Folsom Lake.

“And this way they are actually experiencing the environment, the ecosystem. How do you learn to want to save it if you’re not out there in it?” Kelly said.

This year, students from five other Northern California schools received awards from the Caring for Our Watersheds writing contest. They include Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Grant Union High School, Foresthill High School, The MET Sacramento and George Washington Carver High School.

More information on the contest and past winners can be found at the Caring for Our Watersheds homepage.

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