Student Blogs

by Lucy Knopf (Class of 2021)

As everyone knows, this year’s senior internships look very different than how they have been in the past. It is one thing to adjust to managing a business/organization during a pandemic, and it is another thing to make those same adjustments with the addition of a few high school interns that also require managing. With that recognition, and I’m not sure if the supervisors are going to read these blog posts, but I would like to say thank you for continuing to put in the time and effort that allow for us to succeed and be of use in our internships. 

When it comes to my personal internship, I am in a group with three other interns. Because of this, our internship is likely a little different than our other classmates’ internships, as we are working together as a team to complete tasks and work on projects. We are currently working on a project called the Canal Arts Initiative, in which we are working on developing and designing a series of art installments in one of the most diverse communities of Marin County, with a 78.9% Hispanic population, 13.1% White population, 5.1% Asian population, and 2% African American population. Right now, this community is disproportinately suffering from COVID-19 with over half of Marin County’s COVID cases located in the Canal. This is largely because the highly concentrated population lacks access to resources and protection, all due to the racial injustices that are prevalent in Marin County. This is also due to the fact that the majority of the residents are essential workers and have no choice but to expose themselves and their families simply to stay afloat. 

The people that make up the Canal are one of the reasons Marin County is considered a great place to live, however, they rarely get the credit for it. These mothers and fathers run small businesses that communities rely on, they work in the grocery stores which has undoubtedly become one of the most difficult jobs in the past many months, as well as many other jobs that have been deemed undesirable--yet are essential. The Canal is often neglected by the City of San Rafael and Marin County in general. This community deserves the recognition and celebration of its various cultures. 

We plan to highlight local artists that are from or have a connection to the Canal Area, and work alongside them to produce art that is representative of their community and its people, placing the installments on and around areas of significance to the people of the Canal, as it is their home. It is with this project that I have felt excited in a way that I haven’t felt in the past. I feel as though this project is so valuable, while also exciting and creative. With this excitement has come my yearning for its quick completion, which is unrealistic for a project of its nature, as coordinating with the County of Marin officials and completing the entire design, development, and production of such a project takes many months and is not something to be rushed. 

Through the progress that we have made so far, I have learned to have more patience and precision, and to recognize where time is necessary and important to the success and completion of the task. I have learned to move slowly and intentionally through each essential step, putting real effort and care into the individual pieces of the vast puzzle that is the Canal Arts Initiative. With this developing skill, I am beginning to be more thoughtful with my work while continuing to feel excited and motivated. I believe that this is a skill that will prove itself to be very valuable in the future, not to say that I will use it effortlessly in every instance, as I am still learning and will continue to indefinitely. 

 

by Anna Foehr (Class of 2022)

So far, creating my locally sourced soap business “Bee Clean” has been a powerful and educational experience. I have already learned so much and I feel better prepared to enter the business world. Primarily, I came up with this business idea after a couple of failed attempts at other business ideas. I knew I wanted to go down the path of beeswax products and work to make my product as locally sourced and sustainable as possible. Initially I wanted to create a stress revealing beeswax candle business. However after discussing the idea with Cyane, I realized it lacked the environmental aspect. After a few more ideas in that general area, I landed on my “Bee Clean” brand. This idea was very feasible due to the fact that I had pre-existing relationships with beekeepers/farmers in the bee business. I knew that I would be able to get the supplies I needed and make sure it was locally sourced. I also knew that I had personal experience with making soap, and seed paper which would be my zero waste alternative to packaging. 

In order to determine if there was interest in the idea, I evaluated the current state of our world and the need for soap. In addition to that I took notice of the current political climate and the peaked interest in buying local/supporting the environment. To determine my target market, I researched the general group of people who would purchase soap for their households. At that point I was able to narrow it down to environmentally conscious mothers who were between the ages of 30-70. 

I determined that my idea was financially feasible by carefully pricing out the materials I would need, the fees I would need to pay and how I would price my item. I did this with the help of general research, public feedback, polls, and reaching out to other existing organizations in a similar business. I knew that in order to compete with other soap companies, I needed something that they didn’t have. On top of being zero waste, locally sourced, environmentally conscious and bee friendly I still needed more in order to compete. For my business I figured out that if I was able to have strong communication with my consumer regarding exactly what scents, shapes, sizes and even logos they wanted I could have a leg up on the other companies. 

Another important aspect I had to consider was SWOT. Also known as my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This was very important information for me to have so that I could predict potential problems and brainstorm solutions. I was able to find out what my weaknesses and threats were by basic research and public input. However, I worked off of that and made my strengths and opportunities clear as well. 

Although “Bee Clean” is still very much in the works, and I have a lot more work to do, I think I am on the right track. By staying true to myself and my value/mission statement I know that I will produce products that are of high quality. In addition, with the help and support of my teachers, peers and family I know that I have a strong group of people who will push me to do my best.

 

by Annie Sung (Class of 2024)

Because MSEL is an environment focused school, all of my classes revolve around this green and blue planet and the issues we must fix. In Seminar, we work with our LEAD groups to provide solutions for global issues such as recycling, gardening, air quality, microbeads, and wildfires. In groups of five to six people, we work every zero period seminar class to gather our research and create our project proposals. Working on our LEAD projects helps us better establish relationships with our fellow classmates and creates connections that we have never had before, such as the LEAD community partners and government officials. 

In English, we study and write poetry. A couple of our poems were about the environment and as we completed our “Poetry Slam” (friendly poetry competition with MSEL judges), I got to hear many opinions about our climate and how the Earth is changing. It was very heartwarming to hear that even in English, everyone wrote poems about how we loved the environment and how we can work forward to fix it. 

In Biology, we are learning about climate change and global warming. We were able to learn from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Training presentation and got to hear more information about greenhouse gases, heat waves, changes in the polar jet stream, sea level rise, permafrost melt, wildfires, droughts, and extreme weather. Through MSEL Biology, we get to hear the most accurate information and the truth to climate change. 

In World Geography, we are currently studying water, and are proposing ways to help save and clean water in the U.S. This project really helps us have a better understanding of California’s water crisis and the proposed ideas and plants out in the world. With the four MSEL classes I have, I learn so much more detailed and in depth knowledge about climate change from my teachers and get to hear so many more concrete and intriguing opinions from my classmates.

 

by Olivia Brewster (Class of 2024) 

My name is Olivia Brewster, I am a freshman at the Marin School of Environmental Leadership. In all of my MarinSEL classes, teachers are giving us tests or projects that are supposed to summarize what we have learned so far. 

In Seminar, we don’t have a specific midterm test or project, instead we are currently working on our project proposals for our LEAD Projects. This means, as a group, creating a thorough plan for our project, and creating a slides presentation with all of the information clearly displayed. I am in the Wildfire Preparedness group, and so far our project has been quite enjoyable. We have already written our LEAD Papers, and as a group we have presented our project to the San Rafael CCAP (Climate Change Action Plan). The purpose of CCAP meetings is to hear about what various groups and committees are doing to combat and prepare for climate change. At the meeting there were about 50 people, including the Vice Mayor of San Rafael. My group attended the meeting to present our project and get some advice. We were given about two minutes to explain what we have done with our project and what we are going to do in the future. After we gave our presentation, people on the Zoom call (including the Vice Mayor) asked questions about our project. I would say that the call was successful and informative. These meetings are quarterly, so we won’t see them until 2021! 

In my english class, we are going to have a test on poetry. For the past week or so, we have been learning about different poetic tools, while analyzing and reading poems. We have read Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and so many more. We have also written original poems then presented them in a Poetry Slam, where a winner is going to be chosen (we had a five way tie for first place, the tie breaker is next week!). 

In my biology class, my teacher has decided to do a project that we have yet to find out about. Recently in class, we have been learning about photosynthesis and cellular respiration, and we are beginning to look more into climate change. Before this class I knew the basics of photosynthesis, but this year I have learned a lot more. It can be very difficult to understand these types of things in a virtual environment, because normally we would be doing lots of labs. Thankfully, my teacher understands how difficult it is, and is always willing to answer questions and review anything. I also ask my classmates for help, because they are often just as confused as I am, so we are able to help each other out. 

In my geography class, we are working on the Body of Water Pamphlet. Every student chose a body of water to research and make a pamphlet about. The pamphlets should be like the types of pamphlets that you would find in an airport or travel agency. They should give the reader a general understanding of the body of water, without overloading them with information. For my pamphlet, I decided to write about Puget Sound. I went to Seattle, Washington a couple of summers ago, and was very interested in the intricate waterways surrounding the city. After my research, I found out more on the history of the Puget Sound Region, and how global warming/sea level rise will affect the sound. Unfortunately, if we don’t do something about climate change in the next few years/decades, the Sound will flood and precious ecosystems will be lost. 

The nice thing about this program is that we do projects rather than intense papers or tests. My teacher was even saying that he would rather assign us this pamphlet, instead of assigning us a dull paper to write. In general, this school year has so far been fun and interesting, even with the remote environment.