ACHS Scholar Jessica Raises Awareness On Environmental Issues

In BHGH, we are taught to follow our dreams. So here I am, doing just that.

For many students, college is a dream. I am one of those students. Now that I am a junior in high school, it is time for me to begin considering where I want to attend college. There are so many options. It’s very easy to feel lost and confused while searching. Fortunately for me, I am a scholar in the BHGH program.

Through this program, I have been able to meet all kinds of professionals. From entrepreneurs to engineers, there have been many times where I get to listen to someone speak about a job they love. I’ve also been on numerous college campus visits. I was really excited when I was informed of an upcoming visit to the Colorado School of Mines. I personally think that college visits are the most fun because I get to visualize myself at college with my friends. However, my favorite thing to do is volunteer.

I love being able to give back to my community and showing that I care. With BHGH, I have been able to volunteer at numerous places. I have served lunch at Denver Rescue Mission. I have sorted clothes that have been donated to Denver Dream Center. My favorite volunteer event so far has been the South Platte River cleanup. This was during my freshman year of high school but I will never forget it.

This event made me realize that I really want to put my work into causes that I feel passionately about. As an environmentalist, I feel as though everyone should be aware of the issues that have been manifested after the industrial age. There are now numerous problems with our planet. Our protective atmosphere is weakening, the air quality is getting worse and our oceans are full of plastic. Plastic is the problem I try to focus on the most.

In a disposable world, plastic is one of the easiest items to throw away. From plastic bags to plastic bottles, there is plastic everywhere. I try my best to avoid these plastics. I try to take tote bags when going to the grocery store. I use a reusable water bottle. The main plastic that I’m concerned about is the plastic that makes straws.

Straws are too lightweight and small to be recycled. They can very easily become harmful to our marine life. Straws are infamous from the harm they do to turtles. They can get stuck in a turtles nose, making it difficult for them to breathe. When these straws break down, turtles may also think it is food and ingest the plastic. The things that are happening to these turtles has affected me most.

I love all marine life. To see them be affected this way has really made me want to make a difference. I have cut straws out of my life and use reusable straws. I had wanted to spread the awareness amongst my friends so I gifted them reusable straws as well. They still tease me for being an environmentalist but there is a quote that I will always recall to them. Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is thinking they don’t have any.”

It gives me hope knowing that I truly can make a difference. With this newfound confidence, I want to raise awareness to an extensive audience. Lucky enough for me, the chance to do just this had come up. After being inspired by Meow Wolf, a building with numerous art installations, my school’s art club has decided to convert a closet into a collaborative space for the art department. Through art, I can express my concern for marine life and the damage being done to them. My project consists of straws I have collected from my friends.  After washing the straws thoroughly, I take clay and craft turtles onto the straws. I make sure to build the turtles around the straw as if the straw has pierced through them. Usually, a graphic image gets the message across. Not many people can see what effect they have unless they see it themselves.

I don’t have enough straws yet, but I hope my BHGH peers will make a considerable amount of straw donations to me. I am excited for the final outcome. Knowing that I can make an impact makes me feel like my purpose is growing. Being able to combine my passion for art with my passion for the environment in an added bonus. BHGH has helped me to find my passions. Thank you!