February 20, 2004
Cowley Math & Science Club project has worldwide impact
Saving 2,000 square feet of threatened forest land in Brazil might not seem like a big deal, but it is to Math & Science Club students at Cowley County Community College.
For the past seven years, the student organization has chosen to work with Human-i-Tees, an educational fundraiser, primarily because it is widely recognized for its commitment to environmental education and preservation and for incorporating social responsibility into its work.
In fall 2001, Human-i-Tees unveiled its Tees for Trees program. Since its introduction, partnerships with organizations such as Cowley's Math & Science Club have preserved more than 2,100 acres of forest in the Jaguar Ecological Reserve located in Brazil's Pantanal.
Greg Nichols, Math & Science Club sponsor, said he was proud of the students' efforts.
"This is my first year doing this, and it's pretty cool," said Nichols, a math instructor in the Natural Science Department. "I don't think the students realize the impact they are having on the world in which we live."
The Cowley students raised nearly $1,400, which allowed Human-I-Tees and the Focus Conservation Fund to preserve 2,050 square feet of forest. About $500 came back to the club and will be used to pay for field trips, social activities and refreshments at club meetings.
Nichols credited Pam Smith, a colleague in the Natural Science Department, for keeping students involved in the fundraiser throughout the years.
A.J. Ybarra was the top seller in the club this year, followed closely by Rebekah Krusemark and Holly Leach.
Nichols said the Amazon Rainforest was depleting at such a rapid pace that it would continue to have a negative effect on the environment around the world.
"That forest provides a lot of oxygen, and if the rainforests are depleted, the carbon dioxide increases, and that contributes to global warming," Nichols said. "A lot of schools and organizations around the country are involved in this project. Hopefully, we will help in the preservation of forest area the size of a neighborhood or even a small town with continued support."
Nichols said it was important for young people to realize that their effort impacts the entire world.
"Anytime you can get young kids to think beyond their own circumstances, to think outside the box and what impacts you on a day-to-day basis, that's part of the whole college experience," Nichols said. "You grow up and finally realize that we're all connected."
Sales of Human-I-Tee products took place during an eight-week period from October to early December 2003. Nichols said many students sold the products to people outside the college.
"This community (Arkansas City) has been great in support of this project," he said.