New School Year and New Ideas for Ecology Club


The CHS Ecology Club canoes down the Huron River

Michelle Wander

The CHS Ecology Club canoes down the Huron River

“There are a lot of girls. We want more boys,” Courtney Kiley, the FOS 1 and physics teacher, said of the 35 students already in the Ecology Club.

This is only the club’s second year at Community and already Kiley speaks of big plans for this school year. The club is working with the Huron River Watershed Council to look at contamination in the river. Last year they started planning to work with landscape architects to begin planning a series of native gardens around the school.

“That was cool because like a landscape design company actually came in and like walked us through the kind of process that they use when they’re thinking about how they want to treat an area,” said Michelle Grifka, a senior at Community who has been in the Ecology Club since it started last year.

The Ecology Club also worked with the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy to make a video promoting the establishment of a series of parks along railroad tracks where people can walk to get from one end of the creek to the other. Elise Wander, another Senior at Community, was featured in the video.

“You can see a bulletin board about that right outside Courtney’s room, which has a lot of information on the greenway,” Wander said.

Already this year, the students have labeled the recycling bins and trashcans around the school, so kids are reminded to clean up after themselves, and recycle all that they can. Ecology Club also plans on participating in a cell phone recycling competition. The school participated last year and didn’t win. This year, however, the school has a better chance.

“It was sponsored by Samsung and they just kinda give you a box to put phones in and then you send your phones in after a certain amount of time,” Kiley said about the competition.

The problem last year was timing. Kiley didn’t receive the box until about a month into the competition, so Community had less time than the other schools. This year, however, the school will participate for the full two or three months.

“Recycle them cell phones,” Wander said.

The Ecology Club at Community was started by Kiley two years ago, but that was not her first experience in ecology clubs.

“I started one at my high school; they didn’t have one until I started it. So I have a little experience doing it but that was like thirteen years ago. It was fun,” Kiley said.

The club meets every Monday at lunch for about a half hour, but is very different from a normal class. The kids have a lot of input about what they do and what they talk about. They watch movies and last year even designed Ecology Club T-shirts.

“If you like science, it’s probably a good place to be,” said Grifka.

An annual trip for the Ecology Club is a canoe ride down the Huron River. The group goes down the river in costume because the trip is Halloween themed.

The Ecology Club canoes down the Huron River in costume

“They’re pretty skilled at throwing it into your canoe,” Grifka said about the “various ghosts, goblins, and witches” who throw candy into the boats as they pass by. This was Grifka’s second year on the canoe trip and this year dressed up as an art student.

“I had a big, giant, like man shirt with a belt and some leggings and crazy makeup, a beret, and a scarf. I have never had so much fun putting on eye shadow. Purple and yellow eye shadow.”

Not all students went all out though. Wander went for the “low commitment Halloween costume this year,” and just wore a witch hat.

Grifka (left) and Wander (right) go on their second canoe trip with the Ecology Club

Some students had to chase after their candy in the river, and watch helplessly as the color ran from their M&Ms. Grifka and Wander didn’t have any problems, though. “We caught all of ours,” Wander said.

Wander and Grifka have both been in Ecology Club since it started two years ago, and speak of the club’s idea to raise salmon in the classroom.

“Courtney got a grant from the Huron River Watershed to raise little baby salmon in her classroom. She has a giant tank in there. And then when they grow we will release them into the river,” Grifka said.

About Ecology Club, Wander said “It’s not a super high stress club to be in. It’s pretty relaxed.”

“It might just be more fun than you think,” added Grifka.

The Ecology Club starts canoeing from Argo Canoe Livery