For Environmental Knights, every day is Earth Day

Club strives to beautify campus, promote awareness, hopes to create an Earth Week at Mac in April


Kylie Elkow

Mary Roe (front left) and two other Environment Knights are mulching a tree at Barrlington It’s My Park Day. “It was really cool to get everyone together and help others. I love community service with friends.”-Mary Roe.

Grayson Cruise, staff reporter

A new club has been gaining a reputation for advocating going green. The Environmental Knights have helped improve McCallum’s environmental health, as well as participating in projects locally and even internationally, when they joined the PALS in taking the Shower Strike to advocate for clean drinking water and water conservation worldwide from April 22-29. During a recent club meeting, Gillian Rashid, a senior in her first year as club president, offered insightful information on the goings-on in the club.

“This year I kind of wanted to make it more present in school,” Rashid said. “This club is about supporting environmental awareness and working on projects that involve student community and making our school a better place for the environment. … Right now we are starting to brainstorm about Earth Week, which is gonna be in April. It’s kinda going to be our ‘thing,’ where we have certain activities on different days, sort of like a Pink Week or Pride Week at school. It’s going to center around Earth Day, on April 22 and will have activities throughout the week. This is what we are starting to work on right now.”

Kylie Elkow
Lily Morales shovels mulch for trees at the a Environmental Knights community service event. “It was a lot of work, but in the end it feels good to help other people,” Morales said. “I’m glad I went even though I had to wake up early.”

The Environmental Knights organize a biweekly meeting every other Friday on A-days. Though their activities revolve around Earth Day, the club engages in many diverse pursuits throughout the school year. Usually, the club splits into groups, so there are many projects simultaneously happening.

Earth Week [is] going to be our ‘thing,’ where we have certain activities on different days, sort of like a Pink Week or Pride Week.

— Gillian Rashid, Environmental Knights president

“This first part of the semester it has been a little more cohesive, since this is a relatively new group,” Rashid said. “This is also my first time being president of the group, so I’ve been discovering the club’s different aspects. … We did recently have a volunteer opportunity where we cleaned up Barrington School Elementary Park … and that was fun. I think about half of the club showed up for that.”

Though it can be difficult to start an environmental club, publicizing your club by partaking in local eco-friendly activities will aid it in getting new members and making unforgettable memories of reviving the environment.

“Unfortunately, environmental awareness is a little difficult, because it’s not as tangible of a…subject I guess…. [Start with something like] sock drives, flower sales, etc.; some great things to do, for kids, are things like seed balls, where you put seeds into little clay balls, throw ‘em in a yard, and they’ll grow wildflowers. Last year, what we did was we got a couple trees donated by an organization, and we planted them over in the courtyard by the English hall. These are ways to publicize your club.

Rashid said she hopes that the club will grow and accomplish great things. She  is glad that she organized the club’s activities and puts so much into being president of the club, and is happy for those who help her out, i.e. the vice president, the officers, their Instagram manager, as well as the approximately 50 club members who support the club and make many things possible.

Trees are what keep us alive. We need to care for them like they care for us.

— Club member Zach Steiner

“This year we’re also working on the educational aspect of the club as well, so we are trying to get some speakers to come in, and maybe have a movie screening of a couple documentaries during the club as well.”

The club was featured in the Shield last April, when the Environmental Knights participated in the Shower Strike with Mr. Cowles, the McCallum PALS adviser at the forefront.

 “Yeah! We did that last year,” Rashid said. “We don’t do things like that too often, just because this is starting as a new group, but projects like that are what we strive towards.”

Mr. Cowles, the PALS sponsor, also joined the Environmental Knights and the PALS, participating in the strike for one week, in which they didn’t use any or nearly any water, in order to spread the awareness of water scarcity in countries like Chad, and also to raise money for the non-profit organization Well Aware. Last year the two groups raised a grand total of $12,000 towards the building of water wells, to give countries who have less access to water a new source of life for their communities.

Kylie Elkow
Zach Steiner is dragging mulch to one of the trees at Barrlington Park. “We all need to realize that trees are what keep us alive. We need to care for them like they care for us.”

From local tree planting to international water-strikes to simple seed balls, the Environmental Knights are growing as a school organization, and they are always looking forward to new members to welcome into their community. Recent activities include picking up the McCallum high school campus, taking the trash out in a nearby creek and planting trees in the appropriate designated Austin areas; Rashid urges student to join even if they may not be able to contribute much. When it comes to saving the environment, every little bit helps.

For more information about the club, check out its Instagram account. For more information on the Shower Strike, please visit the Well Aware website.

Shower strike is on