Did you know that an idling vehicle emits 20 times more pollution than a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour?
Student leaders in the Sustainability Corps (S-Corps) are familiar with that fact and more. During the 2016-17 school year, these students conducted research on the environmental and health impacts resulting from idling vehicles for their legacy project, “Stop Idling at O’Dowd,” and have initiated a campaign to reduce the incidence of idling on campus.
To that end, signs will be installed in and around campus where vehicle idling is most prevalent – in the Quad, on Stearns Avenue, and in the drop off/pick up area located below campus on 98th Avenue. Additionally, flyers will be available in these locations to provide drivers with important information about the dangers of idling vehicles. The students also created an educational video.
S-Corps (Sustainability Corps) is the student action team of O’Dowd’s Sustainability Department, and was responsible for organizing and hosting Earth Week and a variety of other environmental awareness activities this year. It is comprised of members of Students for Sustainability (S4S) and the Living Lab Club.
As a student leadership group, similar to Campus Ministry Team and the Associated Student Body, S-Corps meets as a class during 6th period to plan schoolwide educational activities and community impact projects, both on campus and in the greater community. S-Corps members were charged with developing and executing legacy projects as their culminating class project.
S-Corps member Danielle West ’17 said that the idling project was informally launched last spring when a student group organized a survey in which parents were asked about their driving habits when they come to campus to pick up their teens.
“We recorded that over 80 percent of parents who wait more than three minutes to pick up their students left their engines idling,” she said. “It was mainly because they weren’t aware that their actions were damaging to the air quality at school. So we wanted to bring this information to the forefront with this campaign.”
Meanwhile, a second legacy project was the creation of a Butterfly Habitat Garden in the Living Lab.
Tyler LeBoa ’17 explained that this project was actually a restoration of native habitat. “This area had gotten overrun with weeds, blackberries and sage brush,” he said. “We got rid of all that and are in the process of finishing up the planting of plants and trees native to this area that will attract local butterflies that have become endangered,” he said. Some of those plants and trees include lilac, buckeye, fennel and flannel bush.
Planting should be completed by the end of the school year, with mulching and irrigation work following. The garden should be fully established within a year.
S-Corps members are proud of their legacy projects and grateful that they had the opportunity to attend a high school that has such a strong commitment to practicing and living sustainability principles each and every day.
“It’s been such a valuable experience to be able to come up with ideas and then plan and execute them,” Sal Beeby ’17 said.