By Charlotte Suttee
A group of three students at the PrepYou! Senior conference, on November 16, walked into a session at OSU they were only half-interested in and got a lot more than career guidance.
“As a joke, we were like ‘we’re going to go to the underwater exploration [class]’ to see some pretty cool pictures of turtles or whatever,’” recalls senior Carley Widner.
For the afternoon session, Carley Widner, Maleeah Hameed, and Taylor Hatheway attended Ocean Exploration seminar with speaker Andrea Leitch.
“The lady gave the most compelling speech and her story inspired all of us,” says Widner.
They talked to the Leitch after the session was over, and she invited the girls to visit the aquarium so she could hook them up with volunteer projects all about conservation.
They were not expecting to come out of Prep U with a new club, but the Jenks Conservation Club, or JCC^2, was school-approved 3 days ago and is now ready to recruit.
“For them to be inspired enough from the meeting they went to at PrepYou!… I think it could be the start of something very exciting,” AP Environmental Science teacher Brian Yockers beamed.
Yockers was happy to sponsor the club when the girls got back from meeting with Aquarium researchers about planning projects for the organization.
Conservation club isn’t about immediately going outside and saving the world, but it’s goal is to educate students about their impact on the environment because that’s where change begins.
“Everyone is turned off by conservation because they think ‘I can’t shower or can’t use a plastic-anything anymore’ but [the main idea] is realizing that ‘what I do actually impacts the environment,” explains Widner. “We want to make it exciting to be aware of what’s around you.”
“Just because we can’t see all of the change happening in our lifetime,” begins Widner, “there’s going to be change 100 years from now– we are still impacting the world. Honestly, where we are right now, where we are in Oklahoma… it’s going to be hard to reach people about Conservation Club when we think we’re not actually having an impact on [the environment].”
Widner and Hameed are planning future trips to Turkey Mountain and the Oklahoma Aquarium for some interactive volunteer projects for students. This club is not only a great source for conservation education, but for volunteer hours, too.
“This spring we are going to have some multimedia projects with the aquarium to get some awareness out,” says Widner.
That means film contests with prizes, Widner hopes. There will also be a project for students to design a reusable bag for the aquarium. She encourages all people from all social groups to come out and serve together.
“We’re hoping to make a close-knit team who wants to make a difference [in the environment].”
The Jenks Conservation Club’s first meeting will be during winter break. For more information, follow their instagram: @the.conservation.club
Featured picture from usda.gov/media/blog/archive/tag/puerto-rico?page=3