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Clark County Student Summit helps students become environmental leaders

Published on The Columbian

A group at Mountain View High School was looking to make their campus a bit more green, so they decided to start by picking up litter and analyzing it.

They discovered about 8 percent of litter came from disposable coffee cups. Since Mountain View allows students to get lunch off campus, the group worked with a nearby shop to offer discounts to students who brought in reusable coffee cups. Then the group started selling reusable coffee cups in the school store.

That didn’t solve the litter problem at Mountain View, but it has made it better, and bringing such ideas to schools is something Bernadette Donald, an environmental outreach specialist with Clark County, said she wants to see more frequently.

Helping the environment, she said, isn’t a one-person job. “You can’t do it alone,” she said. “You bring in your resources, stakeholders and the larger community, then it becomes a cultural change.” Donald said the effort at Mountain View came out of a session with teachers from Clark County schools at the fifth annual Student Summit, organized annually by Clark County’s Green Schools Program and Washington Green Schools, a nonprofit which helps certify schools, teach students environmentally friendly skills and conserve resources.

The summit was Nov. 2 at the Water Resources Education Center. About 135 students participated in the four-hour event, working in smaller groups to learn about solar power, stormwater runoff, recycling and leadership. It was the largest turnout in the event’s history.

“This program is about teaching the future environmental leaders and stewards,” Donald said. “The kids are going to go home and teach their parents what they learned here on how to help the environment.” 

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