Ransom Everglades went all out for Earth Week, turning both campuses green with a meaningful slate of events and activities from April 19-23. The week showcased the school’s commitment to environmental sustainability and students’ creativity in proposing climate change solutions, while highlighting featured talks by local and national experts in environmental fields. The schedule included a Climate Science Film Festival. Electronic recycling drives on both campuses. Meatless Monday. Esteemed outside speakers. Art and service projects. A mangrove clean-up.
The fifth-annual RE Student Research Expo – which featured 400 student sustainability projects – served as the centerpiece of a jam-packed program of events. The research expo is part of the Ransom Everglades Energy and Climate Change Symposium, which annually brings together RE students, local political leaders, scientists and environmental activists. Leading up to this year’s virtual expo on April 21, RE students made films. They wrote proposed bills. They wrote research papers. They created PSA commercials that were submitted to a competition hosted by the Miami-Dade County mayor’s office.
They also spoke out.
“The good news,” said Will Charouhis ’24, during the virtual event, “is our generation is stepping up.”
Said Mia Bouyoucef ’25: “I look at today’s projects as a source of hope and as a show of the power that young people like us have to change the world.”
RE faculty members Kelly Jackson, Brooke Gintert and Cameron Ferguson organized the RE Student Research Expo, which highlighted the middle school film festival, interdisciplinary projects from science, math, social studies, and English classes, as well as the Upper School Marine Field Research course. The evening event also featured middle and upper school student speakers. All of the science and social studies films and student projects, as well as a recording of the RE Student Research Expo, can be viewed online at RE’s Climate Symposium web page
Earth Week festivities were an interdisciplinary team effort, led by Kelly Jackson and Kristine Stump together with students on the Middle School Green Team, middle school student government, Upper School Environmental Sustainability Committee, Volunteer Service Council, REPA's Environmental Sustainability Committee, SAGE Dining Services, facilities, and faculty from both campuses.
A few snapshots:
Climate Science Film Festival
All sixth-grade students created films featuring solutions to climate change that were intended to demonstrate what they learned in their research and empower their audience to make change. Parents joined their students in the virtual Climate Science Film Festival and voted on their favorite films.
First Place: Ashton Carlo ’27: “How Improved Rice Production Will Save the Planet.”
Second Place: Eli Dimond ’27: “A Forest Worth Protecting.”
Third Place: Olivia Karp ’27: “Restoring Rainforests of the Sea.”
Social Science PSAs
In social science classes, students created short public service announcement commercials to inspire people to take action on a climate change issue.
Winner: Olivia Karp ’27: “Protecting Coral Reefs.”
Elizabeth Bagley, Director of Drawdown Learn at Project Drawdown, served as the keynote speaker at the RE Student Research Expo. She shared insight into the agency’s comprehensive plan to reverse global warming, discussing ways of moving climate solutions to the local level. (RE sixth graders participated in the month-long Drawdown Ecochallenge).
Cinda Scott, Director of the Center for Tropical Island Biodiversity Studies at The School for Field Studies in Bocas del Toro, Panamá, spoke to middle school students during a virtual assembly, sharing insight into her work teaching, lecturing and doing research. She studies the anthropogenic impacts of tourism on the natural environment of Bocas del Toro and the health of mangrove ecosystems.
Jacqueline Patterson, the Senior Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, talked to upper school students about the connections between environmental justice and social justice. Coordinator and co-founder of Women of Color United, she emphasized the importance of young leaders being informed and taking action.
Julie Andersen, the Global CEO of Plastic Oceans International, spoke to middle school students on Earth Day, after a special screening of the documentary A Plastic Ocean to the middle school on Wednesday, April 21. She spoke about ways to reduce single-use plastic and urged students to help protect the environment.
Neil Chatterjee, former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, spoke to sixth graders about the role of the federal government in enacting climate policies. Chatterjee, who addressed students the week after Earth Week, also spoke about the importance of allowing scientists and public administrators to take the lead in crafting climate policies that will allow for clean energy production and a strong economy.
All-School Pledge was written by Madeleine Bagnall ’21 and signed by 200 middle and upper school students, faculty and parents, all of whom committed eco-friendly actions ranging from making sustainable seafood choices to decreasing meat consumption. All who signed the digital pledge were entered into a raffle for eco prizes.
Middle School Uniform Recycling Drive, organized by the REPA Environmental Sustainability Committee, collected more than 1000 RE uniform shirts, shorts and sweatshirts. These uniforms will be REcycled and REpurposed for RE families.
Electronics Recycling Drive, organized by the REPA Environmental Sustainability Committee, collected and disposed of 2,108 pounds of electronics.
Mangrove Clean-up: Middle and upper school students worked with faculty volunteers to clean the mangroves on the upper school campus. Together they collected 150 pounds of trash.
Paint and Planting: Under the direction of the Volunteer Service Council, upper school students decorated pots and planted succulents for distribution to senior citizens in our community.
Mangrove Coastal Shoreline Protection Demo: Upper school students and faculty used the Fernandez STEM Center water feature to illustrate how mangroves protect coastlines from waves and debris. Engineering teacher Bob Dubard built a wave machine and art faculty member Astrid Dalins and student Camille Devaney ’21 fashioned artificial mangroves.
Meatless Monday: Both dining hall chefs got creative to provide protein-rich meals without meat on April 19.
Bike/Walk to School Day: RE hosted a Bike/Walk to School Day on Earth Day, April 22. Students who arrived by biking or walking were entered into a raffle for eco-friendly prizes.
Sustainable Fashion Awareness Event: In collaboration with the REPA Environmental Sustainability Committee, upper school students collected clothes and upcycled them into new fashion to raise awareness about sustainable fashion during Earth Week. Speech and debate teacher Kate Hamm brought her sewing machine and helped students upcycle several pieces.
Native Orchid Planting
: Students on both campuses, together with REPA Environmental Sustainability Committee, planted endangered orchids as part of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Million Orchids Project
to reintroduce native orchids back into South Florida’s urban landscape. With the help of faculty members Don Kappelman and Matt Stock, the Middle School Green Team and Upper School Environmental Sustainability Council students plan to nurture and foster these orchids for the years to come while they grow and prosper on our campuses.
Earth Week did not stop there. Upper school National Honor Society students displayed their environmental research under the mentorship of faculty members Claudia Ochatt and Kristine Stump. AP Environmental Science students taught Everglades 101 lectures to ninth-grade biology students. Students also created infographics for the Fernandez STEM center screens to inform the community about threats to the environment.
Earth-inspired activities continued for a second week at the Middle School as April’s Spirit Week took on the theme of REduce REuse REcycle. The week’s festivities included an Earth Month-inspired advisory door decorating competition, a REcycle RElay challenge during PE classes, an Earth Month Advisory Kahoot tournament, and more.
To learn more about environmental sustainability at Ransom Everglades or how to become involved in future projects and initiatives, please contact RE’s Sustainability Coordinator Dr. Kelly Jackson