In high schools across Sonoma County, the ECO2school program works with students to support climate protection issues using a service-learning model.
Collaborating with teenagers, along with their mentor teachers, the program provides opportunities for young people to take leadership roles in their schools and beyond. This work impacts the school communities – and also has a long-lasting impact on the students themselves.
During the past school year, we sat down with Zalvina Campos, one of our student leaders, who recently graduated from Healdsburg High School. She shared with us her “climate moment” and how this work has changed her.
How did you originally get involved with ECO2school?
Zalvina: After a presentation about ECO2school, our teacher mentor at Healdsburg High asked us to get involved. At first, I joined because my friends did. Then as I experienced more, I got more and more interested. What we were learning in class went along with what ECO2school was doing, and I was interested in it all. It’s so much more meaningful than other classes!
This year, I decided to join again – because “why not?!” I got some of my friends to join – and now I’m the one that takes charge! It’s a lot of work but as long as I can do it, I am fine with it.
What inspired you to work with ECO2school?
Zalvina: It gives me this feeling that I am doing something good – for other people, not just myself… I see more of what’s wrong in the world. I pay more attention now. When I see someone litter – or see oil spilled in a parking lot – it’s not just okay to me now…
We have only this one planet that we’re living on… I see that the little changes that we make can actually help the environment. Even if it’s small, it all counts.
How is your experience with ECO2school impacting your future?
Zalvina: Working with ECO2school has helped me figure out what kind of things I like doing – and what I don’t! Being a leader and organizing events has made me think about careers doing that. Of course, I’m still a teenager (and a human!) – so I’m sure I’ll change my mind a lot.
How do you support others in your group, local community, and beyond?
Zalvina: It’s like throwing a little pebble in the ocean and watching it ripple — or tipping one domino and having others fall, too. Community work is like that. Surround yourself with the right people, and work hard to be a good influence on others.
What would you tell other teens about sustainability?
Zalvina: Think of it this way: If you were going to be in your room for the rest of your life, I am pretty sure you would want it to be clean… right? So that’s where you live. And the same thing with this earth: don’t mess it up and pollute it!
For other teens doing good work, keep it up! It helps us stay out of trouble, keeping us busy and on the right path.
What would you tell our world leaders?
Zalvina: Stop focusing on material things… Look around at our world.
There are some beautiful spots in the world – but if leaders really learned what I’ve learned through my ECO2school work, they would see things differently. They have power to make change. Maybe they’d actually change something!
How does climate change affect you?
Zalvina: The seasons of heavy rains and flooding in Sonoma County don’t threaten my house, but they do affect me on a personal level. My mom has been homeless for two years now, and every time it’s pouring rain, it hurts my heart. I know she’s sleeping out in the mud – and she loses everything every time.
But it’s not just about her. I’ve always been a people person, caring about everyone. Plus, I see life differently now. When I look around, I notice things – the problems, the needs. As a freshman in high school, a few years ago, none of this would have stood out to me. But now I just can’t ignore it.
When was your climate moment?
Zalvina: Basically, everything changed after ECO2school’s first presentation at our school. I was like: “Wow, this is crazy!” From there, I started learning more and more. Our program at Healdsburg High has taught me so much about the environment.
Thanks so much to Zalvina for sharing with us! To learn more about ECO2school, visit our new website at eco2school.org.