In preparation of Georgia Tech's 2019 Earth Day Festival, students, staff, and faculty were asked to submit articles about what Earth Day means to them. Interested in submitting an article? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Submission by Anna Kate Handley
I can trace the beginnings of my passion for protecting the environment from as soon as I have memories. My parents are definitely responsible for this passion, as they both always loved spending time outside with my brother and me as a family. One of my earliest memories is of my dad and I walking around my backyard just to look at the trees.
It wasn’t until I began high school that I realized most people from my hometown did not care about protecting and enjoying the environment as much as I did. This realization occurred to me at the very first high school football game. I left the student section at halftime to find a recycling bin for my plastic water bottle. After circling the entire stadium multiple times, I could not find a recycling bin anywhere. After recounting the discovery to my friends, expecting them to be just as surprised as I was, they started laughing at me and making jokes about my determination to recycle my bottle.
From that moment on, I knew that I had to do something to increase environmental awareness in my community, beginning with my high school. I got home from the football game and immediately wrote an email to my principal detailing my concerns and explaining my idea for a recycling program tailored to my high school’s campus. My proposal was not immediately put into action, as many questions concerning collection costs, student involvement, and community support hindered my school’s ability to incorporate recycling into the everyday operations of its campus.
I decided that I would not let the school system stop the students in my community from being aware of the consequences that their actions can have on the environment. I collaborated with a local non-profit beautification organization and several of my school’s extracurricular clubs to design a program for paper recycling in classrooms, and plastic recycling for common areas, such as courtyards and the cafeteria. The entire school became involved, and by broadening the responsibility of the recycling program, the entire school gained a new awareness of the impact individual actions can have on the environment.
Working to increase environmental awareness in my high school and local community at home inspired me to come to Georgia Tech and pursue a degree in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. In the future, I want to use my passion for the environment and the love for the biodiversity of the world around me to improve the health of the global ecosystem, either through a career in environmental research or environmental law.
The planet on which we live is unique, and beautiful, and one of a kind amongst a universe of billions and billions of stars. I found my calling in high school by educating and inspiring others to make environmentally conscious decisions in order to try and make the Earth a healthier environment for decades to come. As I transition into the next phase of my life, I hope to inspire larger populations to make choices that preserve the beauty of their environments for the generations to come.
This article was prepared by Anna Kate Handley, a first-year student from Carrollton, Georgia. She is pursuing a degree in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the hopes of one day becoming an environmental lawyer.