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2019 Ambassador: Jillian Holbrook

19 Nov 2019 Ambassador: Jillian Holbrook

Jillian Holbrook
Mead High School
Spokane, WA

FUTURE CAREER GOALS

The beauty of the future is its uncertainty. Currently, I am hoping to double major in neuroscience and psychobiology before pursuing medical school to become a neurosurgeon. No matter what career path I end up taking, I know I want to keep asking questions, finding answers, solving problems, and changing the world for the better!

DESCRIPTION OF SCHOOL/WHERE PROJECT WILL BE IMPLEMENTED

This fall, I will be implementing an aquaponic system at Mead High School for Project Feed 1010.  Mead is a four-year, public secondary school in Spokane, Washington, consisting of approximately 1,650 students.  The school is well-known for academics, athletics, spirit, and promoting a culture of pride and acceptance. Although Mead High School’s official motto is “Mind, Heart, Spirit,” each student is encouraged to follow their passions and feel like a part of the school community with the more important – yet unofficial – motto “You Belong.”

WHAT ORIGINALLY MADE YOU INTERESTED IN THIS PROJECT?

Project Feed 1010 caught my eye immediately due to my passion for nature and the environment.  As a student activist and lead member of my school’s Environmental Club, I was inspired by the organization’s mission to eliminate food insecurity through sustainable agriculture.  This past year at Mead, Environmental Club began working on establishing a community garden and held a walkout in conjunction with both Fridays For Future and the Student Strike for Climate. Although I was the introductory speaker for the walkout, I felt I needed to use my leadership skills and advocacy to effectuate greater impact.  Through this opportunity, I can better educate my school and my community while making meaningful contributions to groundbreaking research.\

WHY DO YOU WANT TO BRING THIS PROJECT INTO YOUR COMMUNITY?

I’ve already gained environmental advocacy experience in the past few years.  However, my community lacks a progressive view about environmental sustainability.  It is difficult to break through the barrier created by a lack of education and understanding about the environment and environmental science.  Yet Spokane is no stranger to food insecurity. An estimated 75,000 people in Spokane are considered food insecure by the Spokane Regional Health District.  Project Feed 1010’s mission of solving this problem is something that all people – no matter their age, race, or gender – can identify with. By tackling the environmental sustainability concerns about agricultural, I will be able to raise awareness, solve deep-rooted community issues, and create lasting change.

WHAT CURRENT CLUBS ARE AVAILABLE? WHAT TEACHERS COULD INTEGRATE THIS PROJECT?

Our Environmental Club and community service club, Mead Serves, are both groups that could help integrate this project.  Additionally, my school has a great staff of science teachers including our AP Environmental Science teacher who serves as the adviser for Environmental Club.  I also have connections with local elementary schools and a couple of teachers willing to implement an aquaponics system as part of their students’ science education.

WHAT IS YOUR PLAN/OBJECTIVE?

July and August

I plan to start with establishing my personal aquaponic system at home first. I will familiarize myself with the requirements of maintaining a system and research the best methods, fish, and plants to use.  Additionally, I will start documenting my research and reporting it back to ISB.

September/October

The next step will be introducing the science of aquaponics to my school’s environmental club.  I’ll teach my peers how to set up their own systems and maintain them.

November/December

For this phase, I will work on fixing up the abandoned school greenhouse.  There are empty fish tanks with the potential to be converted into aquaponic systems.  This will require detailed planning and communication with my school and district administrators.  I also want to make videos on YouTube about how to care for an aquaponic system and use that platform to promote further environmental awareness.

January/February

The goal will be having the Mead High School aquaponic systems up and running at this point.  I will make detailed schedules for Environmental Club to get help with testing the water, harvesting produce, and feeding the fish.  This step will require team support, commitment, and attention to detail. With the help of the Environmental Club adviser, I am hopeful I can extend volunteer hours to the students I have assisting with the upkeep of the system.  However, I will want to maintain consistency and think about limiting the number of individuals directly working with the system.

March/April

With the Mead aquaponics in place, I can then move on to setting up small aquaponic systems at Midway Elementary in a few of the fourth-grade classrooms.  Although I have teachers on board, I will need to communicate with the school’s administration to make sure the process adheres to school rules and standards.  After school, I will head over to Midway and spend the afternoon teaching students the science of aquaponics and the importance of taking care of the environment.  Students will spend the rest of the year caring for the system with supervision and my assistance.

May/June

As May and June come around, I will mainly focus on maintaining the systems I implemented at home and in my school district.  In addition, I will look to spread the word about aquaponics and how to set one up by writing to my city’s newspaper, sending newsletters home to the parents of the elementary students, and getting posts written for the Environmental Club page on my school website.  My local library often lets people teach workshops, and if I can fit it in around my busy school schedule and testing, I would love to lead one about how people can set up aquaponics. This would allow me to reach a child, teenage, and adult audience overall during my time as an ambassador.  Diversifying my outreach can spread information and awareness to multiple groups and community members.

WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU EXPECT TO ENCOUNTER?

There are several challenges I expect to face with this project:

  • I will be balancing a very rigorous academic course load and my several extracurricular activities with my work for Project Feed 1010.
  • Funds will need to be raised for extra aquaponic systems when my stipend is expended.
  • I will have to fight my school district’s administration to get approval for setting up an aquaponic system.  There was heavy pushback when Environmental Club tried to get a community garden going. Even more issues will arise this year with the extensive budget cuts our district is facing.  If I cannot clearly detail funding and upkeep plans, the project will be denied.
  • There will need to be a lot of communication with students, teachers, administration, and my community to make my project successful.
  • I will need to establish my credibility since I am only just entering junior year this fall.