When Devon Pasieka ’21 and Anna Marie Heiser ’21 took office in September, their first order of business was to establish four new student-led committees dedicated to planning programming in their respective areas of student interest: school spirit, diversity and inclusion, environmental change, and community service. And once the Red, Black, and Green Committee was established, the two ladies knew just who to put in charge: Bella Gomez ’22. And just like that, planning began.
The mission of the Red, Black, and Green Committee is to reduce the carbon footprint of The Hun School while educating community members about the ongoing climate crisis. In their first year, the committee created student gardens on campus, worked with dining services to reduce plastic waste, established relationships with local non-profits and gained sponsorship, and most recently, created the inaugural Hun Climate Summit, a week dedicated to learning about climate change.
Outside of the Hun community, Bella is the founder of Empowering Environmental Education, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating K-8 students on the impending climate crisis. Through her non-profit, Bella spends time working with young students and teachers to develop earth science curriculum.
Bella notes that during her time working with children, it dawned on her that she could also do more to educate people her own age. Thus, the Hun Climate Summit was born.
“I spend so much of my time educating youth on the climate crisis and I realized I’m not doing anything on my own level to continue to educate myself and people around me,” she said. “So after talking it over with my committee we all decided that a week dedicated to teaching our peers about climate change would be really beneficial.”
When Bella and a committee of twenty-five students were in the planning stages of the Hun Climate Summit, they had one goal in mind: get outside.
“A lot of time when people discuss the climate crisis, it can feel really heavy,” she said. “Sometimes it may feel like there is a lot of pressure around saving the Earth when really, the first step is to just get outside in your environment and see what little changes you can make.”
The Hun Climate Summit was a week in April filled with outdoor activities such as lavender planting, gardening, lawn games, a liquid nitrogen volcano explosion demonstration, terrarium building, and rock painting. Along with the on campus activities, the committee also launched a series of keynote speakers titled “Earth Hour: Climate Conversations”. Speakers included Dr. Aly Cohen, a board certified rheumatologist and environmental health specialist, Mr. Patrick McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at Verisk Analytics, and Mr. Alexander Buck ’74, founder of The Horizon Foundation. Virtual events included screenings of popular climate-based movies and documentaries, an earth art guided tutorial, climate Kahoots, and a student-led climate change open forum.
And while the Hun Climate Summit was only a week of educational programming, Bella notes that the work done this week will continue. With the help of the committee’s sponsors, an official Hun Climate Summit tool kit will be distributed to all members of the Hun community in the coming weeks. The tool kit includes volunteer opportunities, summer internships, and tips and tricks on how to reduce carbon emissions in our daily lives on and off campus.
“I think we all take for granted just how beautiful the Hun campus is and I don’t think we realize just how quickly we could lose it due to climate related issues,” Bella said. “Change starts here. We have to preserve our campus to the best of our ability.”