Bolles’ Environmental Clubs Leave Carbon-Free Footprint

The Save Our Seas club at Jacksonville beach after their first beach clean up of the school year
The Environmental Club at the Alexandria Oaks Park Initiative at San Marco
The Save Our Seas club at Jacksonville beach after their first beach clean up of the school year

Cue Greta Thunberg – the 16-year-old activist heading the movement to stop climate change.

Homegrown at her high school in Sweden, her movement has exploded into a worldwide campaign. Following in her footsteps, environmental clubs have sprung up in Bolles over the years. This year, Bolles has five environmental clubs: the Surfriders Club, Go Green Club, Outdoor Club, Environmental Club and the Save Our Seas Club. While most of these clubs have similar missions, each of them their own niche in the community.

Two of Bolles’ environmental clubs have cast their lines out at sea, focusing on the marine ecosystem. The first one, the Save Our Seas club, was born out of a passion for marine life and leadership; then blossomed into a 70-strong force that hold beach clean ups around Jacksonville every month. “I’ve always loved animals and being able to help them indirectly is really important to me,” says Halle Gold (’20) the founder and president of the club. The Save Our Seas Club has also dabbled in plastic drives and fundraisers for Marineland Park. “This year is our third year,” Gold says, “and we are hoping to expand. We have to spread the word so that people are aware that everything they do affects the environment.”
The second club, the newly minted Surfriders Club, established by the Lee brothers, Nick Lee (’20) and Chris Lee (’23), focuses on educating people rather than taking the hands-on approach of the Save Our Seas Club. “Basically we want to make the world a better place,” says Nick Lee who hopes that by raising awareness for ocean and the environment, they can create a community that cares.

While Save Our Seas has their Greta Thunberg moment as they scour beaches to save marine life, the Lees have theirs by gaining a deeper insight into their community in order to better gage their plan of action for the years to come. “We lived on both coasts, the west coast and east coast, so we have seen first-hand what plastic pollution looks like,” the younger Lee notes. Their list of initiatives begins with talks at the Lower School and ends with talking to restaurant owners about the detrimental effects their waste has on the environment.
Somewhere out on land, The Outdoor Club, Environmental Club and Go Green club have divvied up niches. The Outdoor Club, created and led by Will Camp (’21) at the start of the year, aims to cultivate a love of the outdoors. “We focus on the love and appreciation of the outdoors and hope that would in turn move people to want to save the environment,” Will Camp says. So far, this young club has held camping trips, Chick-Fil-A sales and nature walks.

 The new Go Green Club, on the other hand, is a club that has started their own version of a Greta Thunberg movement in the Lower School.

The Go Green Club plans to give talks to a different Lower School campus every semester and other initiatives centered around education in the upper school. Their talks to the Lower School would center around the effects of climate change and how to use more sustainable materials. Gentian Fairman (‘20) the founder and President of the club, wants to start the education process early, “when those kids get to high school they will remember it and hopefully take our advice to mind.” Based on the 4Rs – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Renew – the club targets the future of our world, hoping that their seeds will eventually blossom into environmentally aware citizens, “raising awareness is definitely more important [than hands on activity],” says Fairman, “I feel that when people know, they will take opportunities to do hands on measures.”

Lastly, the oldest existing environmental club in Bolles, the Environmental Club is continually making their mark inside and outside of Bolles. Their president, Rishi Mishra (‘20), couples the hands on approach with education “As you know recently, climate change has become very huge issue and it is the existential crisis facing our generation so we have sort of taken a lot of our efforts to focus on that.” The Environmental Club combines aspects from the Go Green Club and Save Our Seas club. Their mission is to promote awareness and implement environmentally friendly practices within our community. Recently, they conducted a tree planting initiative in San Marco called the Alexandria Oaks Park initiative, planting about 50-60 trees in total. As for the awareness aspect, the club is hoping to invite a few professionals to give the Upper School a lecture on climate change. Through extensive research and a passion for the environment, Mishra has big plans for the club, hoping to collaborate with other clubs in the future to make an even bigger impact within the school.
In light of alarming news headlines like “Great Barrier Reef corals are being bleached” and “Three Islands Disappeared in the past Year,” trying to make a difference in that area seems like a tall order. Fortunately, with the same fearless courage Greta Thunberg possessed as she sailed across the Atlantic, Bolles’ environmental clubs have cast their sails out into the waves of the climate change movement. By starting at their local communities and implementing small changes, these clubs aim to leave their carbon-free footprint in the world. Whatever it is, as long as there are groups of people fighting for change, there is still hope in the world.