Nowadays, the thought of staying inside is much appealing -- made possible by the genius inventions of Nintendo Switch, Playstation, flag-ship phones, and a plethora of inventions. While it would be ignorant to criticize the advancements technology has made to our society--especially at the heart of Silicon Valley--we should also recognize that with its advancement, fewer youth are interacting with the environment.
The situation is no different at my school, Yerba Buena High School, where there seems to be a mainstream indifference to the degradation of Coyote Creek--a segment of water and wild habitat that runs behind the school. Over the summer of my Sophomore year, I decided to form a project named “YBHS-Go-Green” to get students at my school involved with the creek through water sampling. My goal was to create a bridge between the students and the creek so they could learn about the environment scientifically through three chemical tests: dissolved oxygen (DO), phosphate, and pH, along with physically observations about the neighboring environment. With the tremendous help of our advisor, Ms. Hoang, and my fellow officers from Green Club: Rose L., Hailey T., Nhi D., Minhquan N., and Elizabeth C., the project began.
On November 22nd, we led a group of students down to the segment of Coyote Creek on Roberts Ave. We did physical measurements and I collected the water for the DO test, which was a thrilling process. Predicting what the measurements would be in my head and planning out the next steps gave me a rush of adrenaline. It was a touching experience for me to see the members of the project with their eyes glistening in curiosity at the sight. Much of their excitement reminded me of my first time encountering the site, often filled with a myriad of unanswered questions: How would rain shed affect the water quality? Would the data change with different parts of the creek? If so, by how much? Etc.
When we returned to the classroom to perform the chemical tests, the group was split, each with a designated officer to guide the members. Quan and I were in charge of DO and through the long process connected with those in our group in laughter and fascination. I felt overjoyed at the sight of how the members’ eyes lit up when the colors from the flask changed from a dark blue to a colorless liquid as we dropped in Sodium Thiosulfate. Feedback from members like Matthew T. inspires Green Club and I to create a change in our environment:
The second sampling posed a greater challenge as we were faced with muddy slopes leading to the creek. Just as last time, the process was made possible with each Green Club officer leading a chemical test and the involvement of our dedicated members.
This year was Green Club’s first time starting this project and inevitably, several mistakes were made along the way. As Quan puts it:
From miscommunication to not maintaining a sterile environment in our second sampling, our club definitely has room to grow. But it is through these mistakes and the guidance of our pertinacity that we have learned more about the environment--via Coyote Creek. Through these months, I grew more confident as a leader and the same could be said of my fellow officers. To the members who have participated, I genuinely thank you for your excitement and commitment. And, of course, I have Ms. Hoang to thank for her persistence and belief in our project and also the generosity of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful for their knowledge of the creek and willingness to cooperate.
To learn more about the Yerba Buena High School YBHS-Go-Green club, visit their website.