During the 2022-23 school year, two exceptional students, Jasmine Paramo and Madison Hawley, enrolled in Mr. Yorke’s AP Environmental Science class at Buena High School, and embarked on a remarkable journey to make their school an official Ocean Guardian School. The dynamic duo led by their teacher successfully applied for a grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ocean Guardian school program. Their vision was to transform Buena High School into an eco-conscious institution with a particular focus on a mixed-use garden.
The project’s primary goals were to cultivate herbs and vegetables, serving as a resource for Buena High’s Culinary Program, while also nurturing native plants to support local pollinators and biodiversity. Their dedication has borne fruit as Mr. Yorke recently received the exciting news that they have been awarded a $4000 grant, officially designating Buena High School as an Ocean Guardian School.
This year, 13 Environmental Field Studies capstone students from Buena High School will be leading the charge in planning and executing this transformative project. As project managers, they are eager to take on the challenge. The impact of this endeavor will extend beyond the school’s walls. By growing organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs the culinary arts classes will reduce their pesticide and nutrient pollution footprint, sourcing ingredients from a sustainable, on-campus garden rather than potentially nonorganic suppliers. The installation of drip irrigation and rain collection barrels will not only support the garden’s growth but also conserve water resources that would otherwise go unused. Additionally, the creation of native plant habitats will reduce water usage and promote water filtration over harmful runoff.
Mr. Yorke also serves on the education seat for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Council. Through this role, he became acquainted with NOAA and its programs. Mr. Yorke commented, “I firmly believe that hands-on, real-world opportunities are incredible vehicles for students to learn scientific practices and principles. These kinds of real-world opportunities help foster deeper understanding, practical skills, and critical thinking. Students involved in projects like this become well-rounded, engaged, and scientifically literate individuals prepared to contribute meaningfully to the world and make it a better place.”