Howard High School student rallies her peers in environmental conservation funds project

Efforts go into the wild

December 21, 2007|By Lisa Silverman | Lisa Silverman,Sun reporter

Giavanna Parmer, a senior at Howard High School, has been concerned about the environment for as long as she can remember. She has tried to be environmentally friendly, while encouraging others to do the same.

"I've always really cared about the environment," Parmer said. "A lot of people don't know the dangers it faces."

Parmer's passion for the environment pushed her to find a way to make a difference. Last month, she decided to start her school's first Adopt an Animal program, sponsored by the Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation program based in Washington.

"It's really important to get students involved in helping to protect the environment," Parmer said. "I want to major in environmental science when I go to college, and I want to get other students to learn about my passion."

Parmer talked to Cheryl Rice, her environmental club's adviser, about the project. Rice and the other club members knew right away it was a great idea.

"The environmental club is really picking up speed this year," Rice said. "I knew this was something the kids would enjoy."

Over a four-day period this month, club members sold 134 adoption packages during lunch shifts, surpassing their goal of 100. They raised $3,800.

By contributing between $20 and $100, participants helped protect species and received packages that included a stuffed animal - there were 24 varieties to choose from - a certificate, photograph, animal fact sheet and activity book.

Senior Alex Moulden was excited to participate. She bought three adoption packages to give to her environmentally conscious parents and younger brother as Christmas presents.

"It was only natural for me to participate in the program," she said. "I know my family is really going to like the stuffed animals. They're adorable and are helping the environment at the same time."

"We did a really great job," said junior Hannah Hardin, a member of the club. "It didn't hurt that the stuffed animals make really cute holiday gifts."

Principal Gina Massella agreed. "I think the project was a tremendous idea," she said. "It was really great to see everyone get involved."

Through miscellaneous donations, the club members raised enough money to adopt a panther for the school. The program did not include a lion, Howard's mascot.

The environmental club hopes to continue the project every year.

"We want to expand it," junior Lauren Querido said. "I'm not sure how, but we are definitely going to make it even bigger next year."

The program coincides with Howard's push to become the latest "green" school in the county. The students are expanding their recycling and conservation efforts.

The school also is planning to begin a reforestation project by planting 600 trees on school property, starting in the spring. Defenders of Wildlife helped jump-start fundraising efforts by donating 10 percent of the profits to the school. The Adopt an Animal program has raised enough money to plant 38 trees.

"Think big and start small," Massella said. "This has been a joint venture among the students, staff and administration. I hope in the future it becomes part of the school's culture."

As the school's new slogan puts it: "Howard High Moving from Good to Great and Green."

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