11/27/2013 3:12:38 PM

My Planet, My Part Teen Winner Meets a Polar Bear

By Makenzie Schure

I've been involved with the Sparta High Earth Club and Polar Bears International (PBI) since 2009. Our Earth Club does weekly recycling at our school and also partners with local businesses. For example, we collect aluminum cans from four different plants weekly for recycling, and we also collect shrink wrap, plastic wrap, and shopping bags from our school district. The money we earn from recycling goes into our Polar Bear Fund for green projects like replacing the plastic ware at our school with reusable utensils or planting trees in a Polar Bear Forest. Last summer, we had the chance to camp with one of our partners, the Ojibwe, and did water testing with the Bad River Water Association.

In 2010, we were one of the top four teams in PBI's CO2-reducing Project Polar Bear Contest to make it as a finalist! This was the first time we met Robert Buchanan, president of PBI at the time. He is truly an amazing speaker.

Our Earth Club entered PBI's My Planet, My Part contest in 2012 and to our amazement, we won! From there, one member of our club was chosen to represent Sparta through an essay and interview. I was fortunate enough to be chosen. It turned out to be an experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget.

I was able to take along one person and I chose my dad. We got to go to Churchill, a quaint town of about 900 people. Our first day was spent exploring the town and meeting the people we would be spending the rest of our trip with. The next couple days were full of excitement. We rode in the Tundra Buggies®: vehicles equipped with monstrous wheels, able to hold around 30 people, and nicely heated. Then we got the chance to go dog-sledding with a local husky musher through the lightly snow-covered forest. We also toured the Eskimo Museum, which was very informative.

My trip to Manitoba was truly breathtaking. When I got my first glimpse of a polar bear I knew all of our Earth Club's contributions to try and reduce our carbon footprint were 100% worth it. When you look a polar bear in the eyes it is life changing and just makes you want to do more to help them.

Now that I'm home, I will continue my work with the Sparta High School Earth Club and will always be on the lookout for opportunities to help these magnificent creatures and our environment.  

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