About the author: Amanda Sweda joined EPA’s Office of Environmental Information in 2001 and develops policy development for web related issues and serves on the Environmental Education Web Workgroup. Amanda is a former Social Studies and Deaf Education teacher and is married to a math teacher so education is an important topic in their home.
My 20 year high school reunion is this summer so I’ve been reconnecting with old friends, looking at my yearbook, and thinking about my high school days (yeah Class of 1989!). In some respects I am sure high school hasn’t changed much since I was in school – homework (too much), worrying about what to wear and my hair, thinking about the future (ranging from college to the prom)…that sort of thing. But some things have really changed. In 1989, we didn’t have e-mail, cell phones with text messaging, or even the Internet to help us with our research and homework! Now before you start thinking I am really old – we did have computers. I used the computer to write my papers for school but I could turn in a handwritten copy if necessary. Another difference – there is more focus on community service now – sure we did things for our community but nothing like the current generation’s commitment to service. So when I was thinking back to my school days, I was wondering what I would have done for community service in my small hometown of Rockwall, Texas. Back then, I don’t know where I would have started with coming up with ideas for making the environment better. For the past seven years, I have worked for EPA and try to do as much as I can at home and at work to make a difference in the environment…I only wish I could have used what I know now to help make a difference back in school in my community and the environment….
If you are looking for a potential community service project, sometimes the best place to start is with an issue or concern (or a potential one) in your community. Read your community’s newspaper (or web site), check out what the hot topics are in the town meetings, and take a look at the Community Service Projects page on EPA’s High School Web site. You can also check out “In Your Neighborhood” links to find resources about watersheds, air quality, ecological footprints, and if you’re not sure where to start – just plug your zip code into the Zip Code Search and see what comes up. Every community is different because of its history, geography, culture, etc. What you care about may be different from what I care about for lots of reasons so find something that matters to you. No matter what you do – enjoy your time in high school.