Students combat local environmental issues through real-world projects and internships


Provided by Michael Rawlins

Seniors Tucker Briggs, Nisa Kielman-Ovetz, Maggie Maloney, and Finn Deery-Devine work at their internship at Fibershed in san Geronimo.

Unlike many other high schools, Archie Williams High School (AWHS) provides upperclassmen with a variety of unique environmental education opportunities through immersive internships and projects. An environmental academy called “Students of the Environment Academy – Doing Interdisciplinary Studies Curricula” (SEA-DISC) work in the environmental sector throughout requires students to engage in environmental internshipsHS instructors urge environmental education beyond the textbook.

Environmental Science teacher Alan Nealley created the “Lorax Project” in order to teach his students to devise solutions for environmental issues within their community. The Lorax Project started Nov. 29, 2021 as a semester-long project-based assignment based around student-led environmental research.

“It is easy to get all passionate about animals in faraway places which are exotic, but we have plenty of issues here in Marin that also need to be fixed,” Nealley said. 

For her Lorax Project, senior Abi Treves chose to create a solution to the current non-wild-proof trash cans located at Bolinas Fairfax Ridge Crest to the park service, as well as to communicate the dangers of littering. 

“I would say that the Ridge is one of the most beautiful places in Marin County and seeing such a beautiful environment be mistreated by visitors that have no respect is frustrating,” Abi said. 

Abi hopes that speaking to the park about solutions to the current trash situation will prevent wildlife from breaking into the trash cans and heal the environment in the process. 

In addition to Nealley’s Lorax Project, SEA-DISC requires students to partake in an environmental internship for the Workplace Learning course. For her internship, Rebecca Cochran works on creek restoration initiatives with the Salmon Protection and Watershed Network (SPAWN), where she removes invasive plants, stakes willow trees, stabilizes creek banks, and plants native vegetation.

“I like the SEA-DISC community… and I also get to learn more in-depth about the planet and the environment. If I can do anything to take care of my home, I want to do it,” Rebecca said.

SEA-DISC senior Ella Heimbrodt interns at Marin Clean Energy (MCE), a non-profit company offering renewable energy with the goal of reducing energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. For her internship, Ella researches topics related to MCE’s goal of clean energy and equitability. She also creates presentations to deliver to her SEA-DISC classmates in order to inform them of MCE’s trailblazing pursuits and the importance of renewable energy.

“I feel that it is important to help protect the environment because I feel a responsibility to work towards a future where people and living beings, will be able to enjoy all of the Earth’s beauty without the fear of losing it,” Ella said.

As well as driving students to make a difference within their local communities, SEA-DISC and Environmental Science classes aim to inspire students to take action towards a more sustainable, future-minded world.