Environmental Club: Teaching Future Generations How to Make an Impact.

Today, we’re talking to Ms. Kathryn Crump, a biology teacher at the MaST Community Charter School in northeast Philadelphia. In addition to teaching biology, she also co-sponsors the Environmental Club at MaST.

Students cleaning up in the outdoor classroom.
Students cleaning up in the outdoor classroom.

What is your involvement in your schools environmental club?
“I, along with Karin Wolfenden, are the adult sponsors for the Environmental Club. We help students facilitate club meetings and help them organize projects for the club to work on. Karen has been running the club for several years, I only joined this past school year.”

When did the club get started?
“The club was started years ago. Unfortunately, I do not know the exact date but I estimate it was around the 2007-2008 school year.”

Why do you think it’s important to have a club like this?
“I do not know the origins of the purpose of the club, but I certainly feel it is important to the school as a whole. The environmental club is responsible for the recycling in the building, something that many schools cannot afford to do, or do not have the man power to do. I think the club is also important to help raise concern for our environment, as well as provide people with a place for action.”
What type of things do they do?
“The environmental club is involved in a lot. We usually sponsor a raffle basket every year. Last years included everything you would need to start a back yard garden, complete with plants. As previously stated, the environmental club collects the recycling for the entire building. We have gone into the lower school classrooms and demonstrated what recycling is and means through active story telling. We have also participated in the Philadelphia Phillies “Red Goes Green” event at Citizens Bank Park, which celebrates environmentally friendly initiatives. Last year we helped a student collect Caprisun containers that helped to raise money for a charity (I am unsure of which one. The student who was in charge of it graduated last year.) This year we are sponsoring a bottle cap art contest that is Philadelphia themed. We have done various recycled material art and craft projects in the past. This year we have worked on trying to restore the outdoor classroom. We are constantly up for a new challenge and willing to take on new projects.”

Do you believe it has made an impact on the kids and/or the environment?
“I certainly do believe it has made a difference in the school. Students will actively seek out the recycling bins to recycle items, and will ask if unsure. Being able to use the outdoor classroom this spring will certainly have an impact. I used it in the fall to facilitate a lab on heart rate homeostasis, and the students really enjoyed the chance to be outside during the school day. Educating the lower school students teaches them at a young age to be mindful of the materials they use and how to properly dispose of them. That education really makes a difference.”

What are your thoughts on global warming?
“I personally feel that global warming is a real challenge to today’s society. I try to do my part by driving an energy efficient compact car, recycle whenever I can as well as try to reduce my resource consumption and waste. I feel that if we do not take small steps now that there will be significant, irreversible damage in the future. I see our temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons grow more and more to extremes that we have not experienced before and these are causes for concern.”

Side note:
A large project the environmental club worked on recently was bottle cap art. The group collected bottle caps for 3 months, collecting over 5000 caps. The school participated in creating art out of the caps. This Saturday (10-4) and Sunday (10-3:30), at their annual raffle, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the school, they will be unveiling the artwork. The prizes range from gift certificates to local restaurants to large screen TV’s and outdoor furniture. It’s the largest raffle I’ve ever seen. Go check it out: 1800 E. Byberry Rd., Phila., Pa 19116

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