On Wednesday morning two St. Andrew’s seniors presented their independent research project on sustainability to the school community.
The two students, Sean Christy and Lorenzo Aceto, discussed how St. Andrew’s can become a more sustainable campus through specific short-term and long-term goals and why the audience should care about the impact of these goals.
Christy and Aceto have begun plans to carry out this mission. The two organized a group of rising freshmen who will manage and implement sustainability efforts on campus throughout their career at St. Andrew’s. The rising freshmen will take over EcoSaints, a club created by Rogers in 2015 with three former students. EcoSaints began the dining hall composting program, invasive species removal projects, and seed planting. Christy and Aceto hope to continue to expand the club’s sustainable efforts.
Christy was inspired to embark on this initiative after his conservation experience on Catalina Island. He and his 10 field biology classmates traveled during spring break to conserve marine life along Catalina’s coast.
Their research included identifying plankton species, surveying protected areas, and collecting water samples. The weeklong trip was half a semester of work, which meant 12-hour work days for the students.
This is the first time the marine biology course was offered. Last year instructor Tracy Rogers won a partnership opportunity through the Earth Watch Institute, and selected this research trip for her students.
For Rogers, it has been crucial that her students are able to explore and apply what they are learning in class to the real world. She drew upon her own first experience in field-based research in Costa Rica as an undergraduate student. Rogers wanted to give her students the opportunity to do field-based research prior to college. “You can apply content to the real world. You’re actually doing science. The coolest part of the trip was my students having that same experience,” she says.
Rogers says that her students became her colleagues. “It is the ultimate bond with students to snorkel in freezing cold water after a week of working them,” she adds.
The students did not leave their work on the island. From their research, the data collected will contribute to published results. And for many students, like Sean Christy, the academic trip has been transformative. When Christy heads to Clark University in the fall, he will study environmental science and entrepreneurship to pursue his passion for a sustainable future.