Protecting Our Oceans
Albany High School
School Contact Information
Lisa I., Albany High School, Albany
Lisa is a sophomore at Albany High School who has been interested in environmental issues from a young age. She founded the school's Ocean Protection League, and she plans to study marine biology in college.
Your Environmental Story
Share an experience you've had as a child or young adult that shaped your environmental values or behaviors (time in nature, play, a school project, a teacher, a mentor?) What inspired you to care?
My dad is from Germany, and he wanted me to learn German when I was growing up, so he spoke to me in German at home and would also download German kids' TV shows from the internet for me to watch. One show that I used to watch a lot was called Logo, and it was a news show that reported on grown-up issues in a format that younger kids could understand. They did a lot of reporting on current events as well as environmental issues, especially global warming and potential solutions for it. Actually, that show is where I got a lot of what I know about things like the consequences of oil spills or the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and it’s what first got me interested in environmental issues. When I was about 10, I took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and a book I picked up there was what sparked my interest in actually doing something to solve environmental issues. The book was about all the environmental problems that are caused by the way we live our daily lives and how we can easily change our lives to be more eco-friendly, like reducing the amount of paper we use and changing how we dispose of it. It made me realize that there a problem, and not a lot of people care, and yet it isn’t terribly difficult to solve.
How do you make an environmental difference at your school or in your community? What motivated you to take action or change your behaviors?
This year, I founded the Ocean Protection League at Albany High School. To recruit people, I put up flyers all around the school with pictures of cute sea animals and trash in the ocean on them to get people's attention and get them interested in finding out more about the club. At this point in the year we have about six dedicated members as well as several others who come help out once in a while, and several parents who help out with transportation. We do monthly debris surveys at Albany Beach, where we collect and evaluate trash that washes up on the beach and then try to figure out how it got there and how that could have been prevented. We plan to collect data for another year or two and then present our findings to the Albany City Council, and maybe try to get them to pass an ordinance or some legislation about it. We are also planning to put up posters around our school with information about ocean pollution. I got the idea for the club a while ago when I took a trip to UC Santa Cruz. There, I met the manager of their ocean science department, and he told me about a local high schooler who had started an ocean protection club at his own high school. I have always believed ocean protection to be an important issue, and it’s one that I hadn’t seen being dealt with very much at my school or in the community, and I was inspired to start my own club because of what he did.
Did any experiences or teachers at school influence your environmental values or behaviors? If Yes, what & why? If No, what and why not?
No, not really, although I’m planning to take AP Environmental Science next year so it may be too soon to say. The first time I learned about anything environment-related in school was in sixth grade, when we had a unit on climate change, which lasted for about a week. The environment wasn’t something that I learned a whole lot about in school, which makes me realize how many people just don’t know that much about issues relating to it unless they’re proactive. I would like to have the Ocean Protection League do some outreach and public education at local elementary schools because I think it’s important for kids to start learning about environmental issues when they’re young.
What would you most like to share with other students?
The bombardment of information about environmental issues can be overwhelming, but just remember that you aren’t helpless. You can go out and do something, and it’s okay to start with something small. You can also do more than you think--I wouldn’t have thought of myself as the kind of person who would start a club in high school, but seeing the need for it pushed me to fill it even though I had to step outside my comfort zone to do so.
What do you hope to do next? How do you stay inspired?
As I’ve said, I would like to expand what the Ocean Protection League is doing at Albany. I want to start more public education campaigns and continue our debris survey efforts. Our club is going to get help from the Clean Oceans Project with presenting our data to the Albany City Council. I stay inspired by staying informed about what’s going on in the news, as well as by rereading books and watching TV shows like Logo, which helps me remember why I first got into all of this and reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing.