Environmental community service: providing students with learning and fun

Max+Tomczak+doing+environmental+community+service

Max Tomczak

Max Tomczak doing environmental community service

Jack Tutun , Staff Writer

   Community service programs allow student volunteers to obtain service hours needed for college requirements or resumes, and some students at WHS have found that environmental programs are an impactful way to fulfill these goals. 

   Many students take part in these environmental service programs throughout Massachusetts, but finding the optimal program can be difficult. For those WHS students who have participated in these programs, they have tended to choose ones in which they can have fun and help the community at the same time. Weston High School guidance counselor Christopher Shanahan, and all guidance counselors at WHS, help students find these opportunities. 

   “Our go-to website for students inquiring about community service opportunities is TeenLife,” said Shanahan. “We suggest students target entities within the community that line up with their interests.” 

   Students can use this website to pick out certain programs that appeal to them the most, whether the focus is environmental or not. 

   Some WHS have chosen environmental service projects in recent years as a chance to get outside and support work happening in Weston. Sophomore Annie Dong volunteered to plant trees in the Weston community garden. 

   “I wanted to help out because I knew planting trees would be great for my community, and it would have a lasting effect,” Dong said. 

   Science teacher and head of the Students for Environmental Action (SEA) club, Janet Kresl Moffat, also has ideas for  students seeking worthwhile community service opportunities. 

   “If you’re looking for possible opportunities related to the environment, the Cornell Lab Young Birders Event for 2022 is one to look into,” Kresl Moffat said. In the Young Birders event, high school students spend four days learning about ornithology, the scientific study of birds, and also about careers paths for those with an interest in birds.

   Three other popular programs available in the local area are the Charles River Clean-up, Waltham Fields Community Farm, and the Friends of the Blue Hills. 

   The Charles River Clean-up allows participants to spend a day or two helping to clean up the Charles River as it winds through Weston and other nearby communities. Volunteers can participate on April 22 and 23, the Friday and Saturday of vacation week, and can bring their friends and family if they want as well. The Charles River has a history of being very polluted, but efforts like these have slowly improved its water quality, and students from WHS can help keep that improvement going by participating in this annual event.  Those interested should sign up on the Charles River Watershed Association website: https://www.crwa.org/cleanup.

   The Waltham Fields Community Farm introduces participants to various aspects of farming, including planting fruits and vegetables at the Waltham Community Farm. Volunteers can sign up to work from April 15 all the way to October 14 on Fridays and Saturdays.  More information can be found at https://communityfarms.org

   Through the Friends of the Blue Hills organization, volunteers can help to remove invasive species of plants, and they also can preserve trails by picking up trash. Participants select a specific trail to work on from throughout the Blue Hills Reservation. More information can be found at https://friendsofthebluehills.org.

   By participating in any of these service opportunities, not only will students earn their service hours, but they will also help the earth. Helping the earth is fueled mainly by the help of volunteers. 

   Whatever community service students choose to complete, they should keep track of the hours to be able to log them. When it comes to logging the community service hours, the student’s guidance counselor will help them.

“Students include their community service on their resume assignment for Guidance Seminar 11 so that counselors can include it in their letter of recommendation for the student,” said Shanahan.

   In the end, services can be done for enjoyment, or even just for community service hours on a college resume. Most students come out of their program with a positive attitude. “Planting trees made me feel so happy and proud to positively impact our environment,” Dong said. 

      Although there’s a lot of work being done to help our climate, any student can contribute to that by taking a few hours to do these programs. Helping the world and the community is something that anybody can do.