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Lemon Grove Teachers Mentor Young Environmentalists

SONY DSCOur Marketing Coordinator, Sarah, had the opportunity to interview two more Coastal Cleanup site captains! Our site captains come from all walks of life, backgrounds, and expertise. Our first site captain spotlight focused on a City Heights family, Jody and Dennis. Today, we wish to highlight another dynamic duo – two teachers from Mount Miguel High School, James McFarland and Todd Linke.

James and Todd have been active environmentalists since they were students themselves. Now, as teachers at Mt. Miguel High School, they are in a position to pass on their knowledge and passion for the environment to the next generation of environmental advocates through the school’s Eco Club.

Over the past two years, Todd and James have helped broaden the reach and impact of the club. What started as a group that focused on recycling cans and bottles has grown to do so much more. Today, the Eco Club is an environmentally educated, student-led group dedicated to the protection and enhancement of their local environment.

MMHS Eco Club at Creek to Bay 2014
Mt. Miguel High School students at our 2014 Creek to Bay cleanup! (Todd, far right; James, center)

Todd further explained that, because of the club’s strong student leadership, students often help coordinate field trips, invite guest speakers, as well as participate in cleanups. Last spring, after they participated in ILACSD’s Creek to Bay cleanup, the students voiced an interest in Coastal Cleanup Day so Todd and James gladly signed up to be site captains! This will be their very first Coastal Cleanup Day!

“The students were so excited after they participated in Creek to Bay that we wanted to continue to provide similar opportunities.” – James

Both Todd and James strive to serve as role-models for their students and instill the value, “think globally, and act locally”. Through their participation in hands-on cleanup experiences, students, and potentially other community members, are provided with a better understanding of real issues that impact San Diego County. Such opportunities serve as a reminder that every action we take is important.

When asked, “What is your favorite part of our cleanups?” James noted that it engages like-minded individuals to come together for a common good – “from children to little old ladies”. Events such as CCD and Creek to Bay serve as a reminder that “you’re not alone in your efforts to protect the environment.” James mentioned that after each cleanup, his students often report that they “feel uplifted and full of hope.”

MMHS Eco Club students at our 2014 Creek to Bay Clean up
MMHS Eco Club students work together to remove debris from their neighborhood, including this large tire!
Eco Club member at ILACSD's Creek to Bay cleanup
Eco Club member lends a hand to keep her Lemon Grove neighborhood clean and beautiful!

Similarly, Todd mentioned that his favorite part is to witness a youth or a community member have their first “ah ha” moment; when they realize that they have made an immediate, positive impact in their community. During our interview, Todd reflected on the moment that a spark was lit inside of him – he was a sophomore in college planting trees. There was something about having his hands in the soil, acting locally, that even 20 years later he continues to remember that moment.

Although their site, Chollas Creek – Lemon Grove, isn’t a well-known cleanup site, James noted that there are pieces of nature that are easily missed. There are several nearby parks and canyons that commonly fill with street litter that has been carried away by the wind. Additionally, it is a residential area full of families and students who want to take pride in their neighborhood.

One challenge that many club members face is a lack of transportation which often hinders their ability to attend certain club activities. To help eliminate this barrier, James and Todd specifically selected a site that is in their neighborhood. If you are interested in joining James, Todd and the students of the Mt. Miguel High School Eco Club, please click here!

“It’s easy, fun and it makes an immediate impact that you can see and feel.” – Todd

MMHS Eco Club 2014
Todd and James (far left) and San Diego’s new generation of environmental stewards at Creek to Bay 2014!