In early June 2012, Elkin High School’s first Environmental Club met to break ground on the school garden behind the main building. Students and club advisers worked for nearly five hours to lay out the garden design, till the soil, add compost, and tear out weeds.
That morning marked the beginning of an effort to better understand the needs of the earth and how students can help to sustain our planet.
During an environmental assembly at the school in April of this year, Johanna DeGraffenreid, a guest speaker for the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) presented a call to action to Elkin High School students, and they decided to form the Environmental Club. ACE acts as a partner for the club and sends information about leadership conferences and competitions with other schools across the state and country.
Environmental Club adviser and science teacher, Ruthann McComb said she believes the club is a great place for young people to begin developing an understanding of the challenges facing our environment while working with community organizations to make change happen.
“I care deeply about environmental issues; I enjoy working with students, and want to raise awareness about the environment among a greater audience than just inside my classroom,” McComb said.
McComb added, “The club’s main goal is to raise awareness about environmental issues, [to explore] what actions students can take to improve these issues, to encourage students who wish to study these topics after high school, and to build partnerships between EHS and community organizations.”
The club currently has approximately 20 members that meet one Friday each month at 7:30 a.m. in McComb’s classroom.
In October, advisers McComb and April Swarey helped club members plant a sallet garden and put up recycling posters around the school. The group hopes to plant a vegetable and herb garden in the spring which would supply produce for Elkin High School’s Foods classes, school cafeteria, and, eventually, the Second Harvest food program.
The area’s large deer population is a threat to that plan, but club advisers have been applying for grant money to put up a deer fence around the garden. So far, no grant monies have been awarded to the club, and the future of the garden is in jeopardy. “There are few vegetables that deer won’t eat, so it will be nearly impossible to harvest a great deal until we get a fence in place,” Swarey commented.
When asked if the club needed any community support, McComb said, “We are interested in partnering with local organizations such as the Yadkin Riverkeeper, Town of Elkin Recreation and Parks and Public Works departments, and Trout Unlimited for specialized conservation activities. We would also like to work with the Elkin Garden Club and Surry County Cooperative Extension for our school garden project.”
McComb added, “We are in [particular] need of money and materials for establishing our school garden and for a fence around it.”
She invited community members to contact her at 336-835-3858 if they would like to suggest or assist with local conservation projects.
The group would especially like to partner with “individuals or groups with knowledge about energy savings, erosion-control landscaping, conservation projects, sustainable gardens, renewable energy sources, and waste reduction.”