Published March 25, 2021
By CARISSA MENDOZA
Despite the pandemic, Carmel High School’s Environmental Club continues to run strong, and from beach cleanups to restorations, the club is catalyzing positive change for the local environment.
With a goal of raising awareness about the state of the environment and inspiring others to interact with the natural world more effectively, the Environmental Club has done much to make this a reality even in uncertain times. Senior Quinn Nachbar, the club’s president, explains that this year, the club has completed four beach cleanups at Monterey State Beach, two restoration projects at Palo Corona Regional Park and even a golf ball dive.
“We spent two hours snorkeling around the bay and diving to collect golf balls from the bottom,” Nachbar says. “It was so fun and we collected over 300 golf balls and hauled them back to our cars in the bags.”
Normally, coordinating such activities comes with a fair amount of ease, but Nachbar explains that though the pandemic has made it more difficult, she continues to remain optimistic.
“The hardest part is definitely planning it because many organizations are being cautious with the number of volunteers they accept,” she says. “But we try to do some sort of cleanup or restoration every month by taking proper precautions.”
Junior Giana Buraglio, the club’s vice president, remarks that being online has actually opened some new opportunities for the club this year.
“Our club had the opportunity of getting paired with another environmental club at a school in Germany to work on solutions for environmental problems,” Buraglio explains. “Getting to meet the group of students from their club is something that only could have happened with apps like Zoom.”
Every other week, to spread the importance of protecting the environment to Carmel High students, the club records one-minute videos regarding ways to integrate more sustainable practices into daily routines which are showcased in the video bulletin.
In an attempt to reach out further to the Carmel community, club adviser Jason Maas-Baldwin, who also teaches AP Environmental Science, explains that Nachbar has helped connect the club to the Carmel Climate Change and Action Committee, a local group dedicated to educating the public on climate change and mitigating its effects.
“The committee is actually featuring us at one of their upcoming meetings in May,” Maas-Baldwin explains. “They want to facilitate more of a connection between what the city of Carmel is doing and what we are doing here at the high school in an attempt to form a partnership so we can help each other out.”
The club has made many strides to improve and protect the environment this year, but overall, Nachbar explains that she believes the greatest achievement of the club thus far has been the restoration projects at Palo Corona.
“It’s really cool because we get to plant natives and trees, learn about how these natives will slowly populate the 500 acres, attract animals and improve the health of the ecosystem,” she explains. “I love being able to go there with club members because we are given tasks and when we are done with the restoration, you look around and can see the difference you made within a few hours. It is very rewarding and beautiful.”
With a group of about 12 like-minded individuals, the Environmental Club has been pursuing positive change, and Nachbar believes the group will continue to harness enthusiasm and determination to protect the environment.
“I think that it is easy to give up certain things right now because it is definitely hard to organize events and activities during a pandemic,” the senior says, “but we are doing something positive for the world and that is what is important.”
The club is currently planning to partner with the State Parks to clear out the invasive ice plant near Carmel River State Beach and replace the area with natives. In the future, the club also hopes to do more restoration work at Palo Corona.