Moldy boots and blackberry roots; We can actually change the world!

Guest Post Written by Prestyn Sielaff, Grade 9, Glencoe High School

We see the signs. We see the posters. We even see it in the campaigns and elections. They always tell you, “Save the earth!” We always nod halfheartedly and put on a cheesy smile to continue on our way, telling ourselves that we do enough to keep the world green. We’ll just put a few extra cans in recycling today. Or we’ll switch to cloth grocery bags to keep the plastic bag count down. We’ll do this, we’ll do that.  Most of the time, however, this doesn’t happen. Or if it does, it only happens for a little while and then we stop. There is one particular person who learned a lesson on how to keep their world greener that will stick with them forever. And that one person is me.

I’m a pretty motivational person. If someone is enthusiastic about something, I will usually catch on but this time, I just wasn’t feeling it. Sure, talk about invasive plants and animals may sound cool, but when we actually had to stuff on moldy rubber boots and pile on the layers to get rid of them, my heart sank a little. Who in their right mind would want to slog through mud, in the typical pouring Oregon weather, to pull up a bunch of blackberries? Not me.

But I had to go along, and maybe I was a little curious to find out what all this idiocy was about. So, I sloshed through mud wearing a pair of bright green boots, with a hole in the left one, just like all the other kids. Again I asked myself, “who in their right mind would want to do something like this?” 

And then three shining faces greeted us for the first time, surprised to see so many high schoolers. Surprised, and probably, a little worried.

But they kept on smiling all throughout their presentations, while tearing out the cumbersome blackberries, and even while catching bugs. There was a nice feeling of sincerity in their voices as they would explain things, or just talk to us. And these were the people who answered my question before. They were the ones who will slog through mud, get their hands dirty, and green up our backyards. They were the ones, in their right minds, who would do almost anything to make the world we live in a little greener, a little better. They were SOLVE.

And now, thinking back on it and how much we did to improve Glencoe High’s property, I have to smile and congratulate myself.  Because I actually did something to make my world greener.

I did something that contributed to my and the rest of the world’s future. And I hope one day, SOLVE will be a regular activity in schools across the U.S. and possibly even the world, because if you can feel that feeling of pride in yourself knowing you helped make the world just a little bit better, it will stick with you forever and you can share it with the next person.

It will be a chain of events that can only go uphill from here. It will be a chain of events that will all link back to one small leap of courage to get a bunch of rowdy high schoolers into moldy rubber boots and show them that they have the power to save the world. That, with a little guidance, they can save a whole environment or habitat. One small, non-profit organization that is just doing it because they love it and want others to love it too. And with our help, they will be unstoppable. It will be all thanks to SOLVE.

Thank you to Clean Water Services for funding SOLVE’s work with Glencoe High School!

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