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Ecology club reduces environmental harm

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Photo by Madison White

Photo by Madison White

Photo by Madison White

Chloe Aikman, Staff Writer

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Wandering towards the end of South Hall, one might recognize the Turtle Pond as a landmark of the campus landscape – a testament to the resident Ecology Club’s existence. However, this club is doing more than just caring for the three red-eared slider turtles and their habitat; they’re working to take care of ours.

On a monthly basis, the Ecology Club participates in local clean-ups and has partnered with Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful to remove trash and debris, preserve wildlife and maintain natural beauty. Senior and club president Marina Petersen is responsible for introducing this element into the club this year, as well as organizing these events.

“It’s really important to me because we’re all teenagers; we’re all about to become adults, and I think it’s important that we teach them to be passionate about the environment and make sure it’s protected,” Petersen said. “I think Ecology Club is really good because we give young students an opportunity to learn about it and work for it.”

Petersen moved here at the beginning of her junior year from Brazil and ensured that Ecology Club was the first club she joined. Having an affinity for nature and a desire to maintain the cleanliness of the environment, Petersen and other members were recently involved in a massive post-Gasparilla clean-up.

“All the garbage and trash that was left on the streets could have easily gotten in to the drainage system, which would have had a terrible impact on the local environment, especially the animals in the bay,” club sponsor Kurt Thoreson said. “We reduced the impact that impact would have, so [it’s] almost like an Anti-impact.”

Clean-ups are open to all interested students, regardless of membership. Ecology Club numbers themselves have grown from just 12 students last year to over 20, and they’re always open to accepting more.

“I really enjoy the clean-ups and being in a club that really matters,” junior Alex Pittman said. “For me, personally, I’m a neat freak. I like keeping my room clean, so I like keeping the earth clean.”

Ecology Club spent three hours walking along Bayshore the Sunday after Gasparilla, making their way down backroads and picking up trash all the way to Hyde Park with trash bags, vests and thick gloves to aid them.

“It’s fun walking around, and you know you’re doing it for a good cause,” freshman Nicholas Digangi said. “I know I’m helping out the environment, and I’m doing something good. One of [our] goals was to clean up Bayshore, and we did a lot of that.”

On top of fulfilling their monthly objectives, Ecology Club also aims to expand and spread their message of environmental accountability.

“It’s important because at this age a lot of students are learning how to fit into the world, and we have a lot of problems in our world – and one of them is not taking responsibility for one’s own actions,” Thoreson said. “Sometimes that’s as simple as disposing of things properly.”

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Ecology club reduces environmental harm