Students from all over the Lowcountry gathered at James Island County Park for the 12th-annual Earth Force Youth Environmental Summit on Thursday to share their love of, and appreciation for, the environment.
The event was an opportunity for students to present projects they worked on throughout the school year that will better the environment. There also were community business partners who presented students with different ways to apply what they learned in the classroom to things in everyday life.
According to Alcoa employee Henk van der Meyden, it's important to teach children about conservation because "an early awareness can lead to a lifetime of learning."
Rosanne Runyon, of the South Carolina Aquarium, said that having fun activities such as Earth Force helps students learn about science in a way that entertains them and makes them want to care. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who attended the event, congratulated students
on their projects and encouraged them to help older generations understand why this is important.
To Anna Richardson, the executive director of Earth Force, the summit is all about the kids. There are 1,500 students who participate in Earth Force in the state and more than 18,000 who participate across the country.
"I thought it was a neat concept to teach this younger generation about what is happening to our planet and that it's up to them to make a difference," Richardson said.
Charleston Day School students Thomas Hanahan, Jeb Hines and Noah Thesing were three of nine students from their school's Earth Force club who presented their environmental initiative, which won an award from Staples.
"We did things like going to the mayor's office and talking about his charter on climate change, and we made our own charter that Jeb and Noah took to Denver," Hanahan said.
Their charters were a list of responsibilities the students pledged to take on to improve the environment. The national charter, titled "Youth Charter of Responsibilities: Let's Take Care of the United States," includes a list of initiatives, including reducing waste by recycling, conserving energy and educating their peers and others in the community.
While in Denver, Hines and Thesing joined Earth Force students from all over the country to combine charters, and will travel to Brazil this summer to join students from all over the world.
Jocelyn Hurley, the club sponsor and science teacher for Charleston Day School, encouraged all teachers to participate.