Los Altos High Green Team hosts conference at Google

Courtesy of Anya Gupta
Sarah Chang, left, and Anya Gupta lead Los Altos High School’s Green Team at a conference held last month at Google Inc.

The Green Team is Los Altos High School’s environmental club. We hosted our fourth annual Students for Green High Schools Conference Jan. 27 in a room on Google Inc.’s Mountain View campus.

The mission of the conference was to bring environmentally minded students together to inspire and learn from each other to strengthen the culture of sustainability on our campuses.

It was the culmination of four months of planning. Apart from having sponsors including Sticker Mule, Cal Water, GreenTown Los Altos and Google making many of the technical things possible, the annual event is – and will always remain – a completely student-driven conference.

Our freshmen and sophomores this year really set the foundation for making this event a huge success. Having a new generation of environmentally passionate students is awesome for the Green Team, and is something we deeply appreciate. Our conference motto is “By students, for students.” We are the future, and we hold responsibility for fostering a culture of sustainability in our schools. Whether this means airing video announcements to educate our student populations or pushing the administration to get better trash bins throughout campus, we promote sustainability in our school and greater community.

The conference drew approximately 70 attendees representing 14 schools from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. Guest speakers included Sierra Garcia of Students for a Sustainable Stanford and Margie Suozzo of GreenTown Los Altos.

When clubs are new, they sometimes can be isolated on campus, and it may be hard for them to garner support and generate a community. We wanted this conference to be an opportunity for students who are passionate about the environment to connect and collaborate with one another.

It was reassuring to see the support we have from students in the area. Nearly every school’s representative gave a presentation, answered questions and talked about the past events their club was involved in. With several communication sessions worked into the schedule, we wanted there to be emphasis on making connections with different schools, based on initiatives that students found interesting. The conference, as we had hoped, would provide students with time to reach out to peers whose input they felt could be beneficial for their own clubs.

We also loved hearing what students learned from the event. We knew all our efforts had paid off when we saw groups of students excitedly discussing the details of how their projects were implemented and exchanging contact information after the conference.

After our conference, we sent out a form to all attendees, asking for recommendations and feedback for next year. One response, from Amber Fry of Mountain View’s Gardening Club, struck us: “One word that sums up the Students for Green High Schools Conference: inspiring. Not only was the event an amazing experience, but it was a perfect way to meet other people. … I now have connections to follow teen environmentalists in the Bay Area who I can connect with for advice and support … and am excited to share everything I learned with my community.”

With environmental crises becoming more devastating and increasing tension in the government, it may seem like we can’t do much as high schoolers. However, the fact that so many were present signified that we are able to spur long-lasting change in our schools and communities. It just takes a lot of persistence and support from others, which we had right here at this conference!

Anya Gupta and Sarah Chang are co-presidents of Los Altos High’s Green Team.

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