Forest and Ocean
Green Academy, Berkeley High School
School Contact Information
Lenaya R, Green Academy, Berkeley High School, Berkeley
I was homeschooled and lived nomadically until middle school. I like to write and make art, and I’m still a traveler on the path towards environmental justice.
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?
When I was younger, I always spent time in Washington over the summers at my grandparents’ house. I spent a lot of time outside there: I would take care of the garden with my grandpa, and they had at least five beautiful acres of woods on their property that I loved to roam around in and explore. But when I was twelve, the woods all around their land were clear-cut and developed, and I remember that being very sad for me. Not only was the beauty diminished, losing the woods also meant losing a lot of the wildlife that lived in the area, since things like moose and wolves don’t wander through if there are houses all around. Even though I was young, the loss I felt made me want to try and fix the situation somehow, or at least prevent it from happening elsewhere.
How do you make an environmental difference at your school or in your community? What motivated you to take action or change your behaviors?
I make sure to pick up trash around my school and all around my community. I get depressed when I see trash hanging around on the ground making the place ugly. I tell people to pick up their trash, and I also talk to people about environmental issues and try to get them to understand why it’s important to protect nature and the environment, if they don’t already know.
Did any experiences or teachers at school influence your environmental values or behaviors? If Yes, what & why? If No, what and why not?
I’ve definitely learned a lot about the environment and sustainability from Ms. Trimlett, as well as in the Green Academy program as a whole. In Green Academy, we learn more than what you read in the news or see on T.V. about things like climate change and the Pacific Garbage Patch—we get the whole side of the story, not just sensationalism. Especially with all the science classes we take, we go much more in depth and learn why climate change occurs, why it’s especially important to implement renewable energy programs in developing countries, why the world’s total amount of arable land is rapidly shrinking and why we should care. I care a lot about protecting the environment and working to minimize humans’ impact on the Earth, and that was what motivated me to join Green Academy.
What would you most like to share with other students?
Forests are not as far away as you think. Go visit one. I think it’s very important for everyone to get out in the woods at least every once in a while because it’s calming and relaxing to be in nature and it would be horrible if people didn’t know what a forest looked like. One other thing: When you’re throwing away your lunch garbage, just take two extra seconds to sort it instead of dumping it all into the nearest bin. It won’t ruin your day, I promise.
What do you hope to do next? How do you stay inspired?
I don’t exactly know yet since I’m still considering a few different careers. I’d be interested in a career in marine biology since I don’t get seasick and I’m interested in ocean conservation. The Pacific Garbage Patch is crazy. The ocean is really big, but even though it may seem like an impossible job, it’s really important to work to clean it up and protect the creatures and organisms living there. There’s a lot of damage in our world to fix and clean up, and we need to realize that the Earth can’t do it all by itself—it needs people to help it.