I first joined an environmental club in third grade and continued through middle school. In sixth grade, our teacher was responsible, proactive and silly and our club ran excellently. I studied hard for the Environmental Mind Grind, a Jeopardy-style contest, and we won in our district.
On the first day of school the next year, we discovered that our advisor had been replaced. The new teacher was great and though our club diminished in size, we won the mind grind again and had fun.
By eighth grade, there were only five of us left. We again had to find another teacher, but when we did, he was rarely at meetings and contributed little. We recruited members, but without a helpful teacher it seemed impossible to get on our feet. This former joy had become a burden.
It suddenly didn’t matter how irresponsible the teacher was or what my friends did as long as they cooperated with me. I wrote a letter about waste and recycling in fast food restaurants and I repeatedly met with the principal to schedule a meeting with the mayor, who agreed to send it out. We held a school-wide assembly to spread awareness, convinced the solid waste coordinator to do compost presentations for the school and donated $200 of our Mind Grind winnings to endangered species.
I finally understood what I had been working toward for the last six years. When I had defined hydroelectricity in competition, it hadn’t been for the planet; it had been for judges, to be crowned champion. That year, my own answers finally sunk in and I decided that all my hard work had been worth it.
Next year, there will be a bigger club at my new school where I hope I will find people who care for the environment like I do. I will always care and even though sometimes I feel like giving up…I never will.
Anne won $100 for her story! Share your stories at NextStepU.com/ShoutOut for your chance to win.