Oakland Tech EarthTeam

This is our very first post. In the 2016-2017 school year, Oakland Tech student interns will participate in an after school service-learning project to reduce contamination in the waste streams in their school & communities. This blog will serve as a platform for interns to share their work.



A Visit to the Presidio.

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*Student Blog*

My favorite part about the Presidio trip was that I got to meet new people and play games with them and just have a lot of fun with them. I felt like I took away the ability to make new friends and to know that everyone has a good side of them to help the world to be a better place. They all were very nice people and I hope to see them again soon.

Something that took me by surprise was that there were so many young people to go with that are trying to make a change in the bay area. It felt amazing to meet other people that were working on other projects and that there are others out there trying to make a difference like we are. It changes my view on the good people in this world, there are others that want to make a change so that the world will be a better place for all of us. I personally feel morally good knowing that my fellow students are making a difference no matter what school they go to.

This trip was truly amazing and helped me widen my understanding that we are not the only school trying to make a difference around the world. The focus of the trip was to get other students to share about their schools projects and what they are doing.

It takes one voice to make difference and I want to be apart of that voice so that I can help other people around the world that don’t have the same opportunities we do. 

Written by: Petteri, Tech Intern 

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What drives you? Hear from our interns!

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 Recently, Earth Team was denied the opportunity to speak in the monthly staff meeting, our usual avenue for reaching the entire faculty body. Although it was a bit of a bummer for our interns, we were ready to jump over the obstacle and have officially nailed down a game plan, the Teacher Outreach Campaign. Our interns will be going in to talk to every single Teacher on campus (Yes, all 110 of them!)  to share with them important facts about the system, make sure they know there responsibilities as Teachers, and hear their thoughts on how its working.

Although the system has been working well so far, with all new things there is still some resistance. Interns developed materials like a Teacher Protocol Guide, 3-Bin Pledge of Commitment, etc. so we don’t walk in empty handed, but we knew that that wasn’t enough. Since this whole project is a student initiated and youth powered, our team wanted to make sure we were ready to communicate that to the Teaching faculty. So to prepare, our team created individual Personal Statements reflecting on why drive us to do what we do.

Hear what our interns had to say..  

As a big school, we produce a lot of waste. As the more dominant race in the world, we produce a lot of waste. Some of that trash, yes can go back into the earth and benefit our planet (compost) But others like plastic, glass, metal, they don’t. If us humans keep trashing and destroying the environment, the earth will suffer immensely. We’ve already started to experience global warming and huge storms and a number of other things. The more we treat our earth like its not our home, and more like a trash can, the worse off our living and health will be. Simple things can be done and in doing them, we can make a difference. It helps us all.

Written By: Asha – Freshman, Tech Intern 

I chose to be a part of Earth Team, it was my choice. Earth team gives me the opportunity to do something bigger than myself, I am giving back to my school that supported me. I care about the Earth and the work we are doing towards the 3 bin system, though a smaller part of a bigger problem, is making a difference. I can’t expect others to help the environment, if I want work to be done I have to do it myself or with my Earth team community.

Written By: Sophia – Senior, Tech Intern 

I joined Earth Team because our environment is something that we as an industrialized and busy society take for granted and neglect. We as people set our goals and things we value so far away that we often forget that the Earth beneath our feet and the atmosphere around us is what enables us to get to those goals and uphold those values. What we do in our own community will not only affect us now, but also our future generations and other people at the same time. Also, caring for the environment does not take an enormous amount of effort: simply attending Earth Team meetings and learning about our environment, coming up with small solutions that we each can do, is enough to make a long-lasting impact in our own households, schools, and communities. Nevertheless, nature is beautiful and we certainly want to keep it beautiful.

Written By: Raymond – Senior, Tech Intern 

The 3-bin system is an important program to me because it’s a way to help out the Tech community. In addition, I attend Earth Team every week so I can have a positive impact on my school. Although our actions seem small, if we all participate in the program we can magnify the impact and truly minimize the Tech’s carbon footprint. My generation is inheriting the Earth so I feel like obligated to try and fix the current problems facing the Earth now.

Written By: Jose – Tech Volunteer Intern

I first became interested in Earth Team after seeing how enthusiastic Jenna was about the program after presenting it to us. I applied for an interview because Jenna made it seem easy and it was like, why not? There is so much that can be done to make sure that humans live on this earth sustainably that is simple, easy, and doesn’t take very much time at all. It was all this as well as the thought of working with other people my age that share an interest in saving our planet.

I also very much appreciate our planet in its current state, and don’t want it to change too much. I like that we have fresh water to drink. I enjoy the fact that there is clean(ish) air to breathe. I love that there is food that I am able to eat to keep me going. I like watching the many other animals that we happen to share this planet with. Many of these resources are slowly going away as we pollute our planet, and I thought that if I want to do something, Earth Team is the place where I can really make a difference.

Written By: Ryoji – Senior, Tech Intern 

I joined EarthTeam because i wanted to help my community here at Oakland Tech. I’m only a freshman, and i’m gonna be here for a lot more years. I want to help improve my school for both me and my classmates and all future students who attend this school. I also want to help improve Oakland Tech’s reputation. We have reputation as a not very good school and i think a project like the 3 bin system could help change the legacy of this school, another thing that is very important to me. I also saw EarthTeam as a great way to help make a change in general. I think being able to help and make large scale changes that will help out is very important, and EarthTeam is doing that. I think most people don’t get a chance to work on an important project that actually gets executed successfully in high school, and while they may do hypothetical projects, an opportunity like this to make a real change is incredible that i feel lucky to have. This team is important to me because it is doing so much good for my community, and helping everyone out.

Written By: Ruby – Freshman, Tech Intern 

I am apart of Earth Team because I care. While I was aware of a lot of the issues we are talking about in Earth Team now, I don’t think I really understood. Earth Team is a great opportunity to learn, while also creating some real and positive change in the world.

Written By: Yan Yan – Tech Intern 

I signed up for Earth Team because of what I saw in my community. Around my house, on the sidewalk there’s always a lot of trash. One day I saw my mom get a broom and start sweeping everything and I automatically went to go get trash bags and we started sorting everything into our bins. She told me she was so tired of seeing all this garbage on the street and if no one else was going to do something about it, she was. After she started doing this, she kept on doing it whenever she had time and when there was too much trash which was very recent. Even before this I always saw her constantly trying to clean up the streets. She always picked up trash she saw on the street and later she started collecting bottles to get a little money. I remember being in our backyard helping her sort the bottles into plastic, glass, and aluminum. We counted everything, which was a lot and put it on the back of her truck and then we would go to Costco in Richmond to sell them. She has always inspired me to try and make a change. I don’t expect to win a big reward, my reward will be being able to live in a world I’m proud of. To be able to walk outside and see clean streets. I know it isn’t a realistic goal because there are always going to be people littering but I know that even one person makes a change. I want to be this person in my neighborhood.

Written By: Daisy – Freshman, Tech Intern 

I believe that every person has a chance to make a difference, that 15 minutes of fame that everyone gets. I took that opportunity and joined Earth Team to make a difference even if it started with my school. I joined for one simple reason that I want to help people become more aware and change their views about the earth’s condition and try to help our future lives. This program has changed me and I hope that sharing my experience will give you the confidence to try to help our world and make it our planet a safer place for our generation and our future generations. I am only a student but my voice can go so far but only with the right conditions and the right help. Help me get you voice out their so we can all together solve the world’s problems. We are trying to help so help Earth Team to make a difference in our community.

Written By: Petteri – Senior, Tech Intern 

Over the past year, Earth Team has taught me the importance of contributing to your community. It taught me that no matter how small or big your task is, it is making a huge difference. At the start of my internship, I was quite oblivious of how to approach long-term solutions in having a better and greener Earth, especially with all the adversities. However, with my Earth Team peers, I believe we have made a huge difference in just contributing a stepping stone.  I knew my commitment for Earth Team was real when I would get upset seeing people throw away their trash incorrectly. I knew that my peers and I had the “power” to change that, but it would only work if people contributed as well. I believe the reason why I am so inspired by the idea of having a better Earth is that, doing good deeds make you feel good as well, and I strongly recommend others to believe in that as well.

Written By: Suzanne – Senior, Tech Repeating Intern 

I participate and come to Earth Team every week not to just better myself, but to also better our community, and ultimately our environment. Personally, Earth Team is a major learning opportunity for me, being very uneducated in environmental science and problems our community face in that aspect. Even bigger than myself, the work we do helps us better the image of Oakland Tech. And having 2,000 high school students that sort their waste and are joined by the one goal to help better our environment, is a very important and influential goal to have as a school. Lastly, of course, we are helping our environment, the place we live, which makes me have hope for our futures, and also tells me that I am doing something with my life. Something meaningful.

Written By: Kamilah – Freshman, Tech Intern 

Before I came to tech I told myself that if they didn’t have a three-bin system I would create one. The first day of school I saw all the waste going into the landfill and it made me so sad. I knew this school was very big and there shouldn’t be that much food waste going into landfill. I worked really hard with the Green club and administrators trying to get a system put in place. It was challenging and I met many obstacles so when I heard about Earth team, I knew I had join. Having a team of smart, passionate interns made all the difference. We implemented a 3- bin system in four months! Making positive change in your community is very inspiring. Even though we still face obstacles, every week we show up and make a difference. Because of Earth team we have a more sustainable school. The amount of waste that could have been composted or recycled was at 91% before the system and now it’s at 41% and will continue to go down. Some people say that this project doesn’t make a difference but it is an example of thinking globally and acting locally. Other schools are already following the example we set.

Written By: CoCo – Senior, Tech Repeating Intern 

 I joined Earth Team last year as a sophomore in High School, and decided to join again this year. Earth team aligns with my ideas of youth leadership, empowerment, and community, which is what originally drew me into the program. Being a part of Earth team for over a year taught me how to advocate for the things I believe in and help make change within my community. I feel like I became a more confident and productive person through this program. Although I’ve always had a deep care for the environment, Earth Team helped me put these feelings into a place where they can become actions. These actions will help the environment for years to come, positively changing the world starting on a local and personal level. I come here every week because I want to be a part of this change. I want to learn how to change the world, starting in my own high school.

Written By: Lucy – Junior, Tech Repeating Intern 

Earth Team provides an outlet for me to get involved in my school community and is overall an area of interest for me. Earth Team challenges me to go outside of my comfort zone and helps me convey my ideas much clearer than I would usually. My general interest in the environment started off when I was young and has continued to grow and Earth Team allows me to apply my interests and time into something worthwhile. Why leave all the fun stuff to the adults?

Written By: Angela – Senior, Intern 

When I was a young child I realized that not every human cares for the environment and the future sustainability for our Environment. To this day it still frustrates me that people know about the environments problems but there is little action being done to solve the earth’s problems. For this reason I have decided to commit myself to help the Earth Team’s project as a volunteer since I can gain valuable experience of actually creating change within the tech community. Moreover, I come to volunteer to Earth Team to increase my knowledge of Environmental sustainability so I can then have the ability to spread the word of all the problems and solutions regarding to the sustainability of the environment. Finally, I come to gain experience from the Earth Team so I can gain more experience with the environment so I can be better prepared of pursuing a career of becoming an Environmental Engineer.

Written By: Cortez, Tech Volunteer Intern 

Earth Team has, so far, been an amazing experience for me. I can be active in my community and work closely with people that care about the same issues as me. I’m lucky to have this opportunity to work on our school and continue to improve it so there will be an overall better environment here. I also enjoy that I get to help the environment at the same time as all of this and am able to work with amazing people on an amazing project.

Written By: Jade – Freshman, Tech Intern 

While you may think that you are doing the earth some good by not contributing to the litter, you are right and wrong. You are right because when you don’t contribute, you are reducing the amount of time it will take before the earth can no longer withstand  the outrageous pollution.  However you are wrong because by not attempting to take a stand against the pollution you are only helping prolong the negative effect pollution has on the you and the environment. Ultimately this is why I joined earth team because I know that change must start small but can’t stay small. When I joined earth team I have been making an effort to create a difference that will truly count in the long run.  

Written By: Tyea – Tech Volunteer Intern 

Thanks for reading! 




Interns attend the 2017 Brower Awards!

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*Student Blog*

The Brower Youth Awards is an awards ceremony named after David Brower that recognizes six extremely young and exceptional environmental justice leaders that act on their own will to better the world for everyone.

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Since this was my first time attending this awards ceremony, in fact any ceremony involving environmental justice, I did not know what to expect, but I did know that I will have a lot to learn and take away. And so I did. Having witnessed several young leaders who care about Earth and are taking action to protect and preserve, I personally felt underwhelmed about myself. There were youth who were only 16 and there were youth who attended one of the most prestigious universities in the world. The sixteen year-old partners truly took me by surprise because of the initiative that they took to not only change bad habits of disposing trash in their own neighborhood and city, but also to take their strong spirit and advance it toward regional, national, and even global action.

Though I say that I do not feel as proud as they must have felt about the achievements that I have worked for, I was definitely inspired and motivated by each and every one of the speakers and leaders because what they are doing is real and contemporary. They make me feel as though even I can contribute and become like them. If I think deeply about it, it’s true because each one of them started small and branched out. It was their strong spirits that drove them to accomplishing so honorable an award. If they can do it, anyone can do it!

Written By: Raymond, Senior, Intern at Tech 

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Interns check in with their Team Members, Tech Custodial Staff!

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*Student Blog*

During one of our meetings, we decided to have a quick meeting with the custodial staff. We started out just planning the basics of what we were going to do: We had to make sure to thank them for taking the time to speak with us, as they have very busy days and a lot of work to be done. We wanted to tell them who we were and what we stood for, and then talk through some things with them. There had been rumors that custodians weren’t, in fact, keeping the three bins of compost, recycling, and landfill, separated, and instead of compiling them into landfill. Teachers were irritated, and a few mentioned they wouldn’t want to participate in the three bin system if it was all going to the same place anyway. We wanted to alert the custodians of those allegations, and let them know what was being said. We came together to make a plan to help some of the recently hired custodial staff members to learn the system and to spread some overall awareness of our system.

We also all brainstormed a few things we could do to encourage people to sort their trash and to make it simpler. We wanted to install a whole, separate bin for pizza boxes, as those are a common item that is thrown away but is often mis-sorted. It also takes up a lot of space and fills up containers very quickly, so it would be more efficient to have a whole other container to better hold these items. One of the custodians also had the idea to ask some of the kids in the Fashion Arts and Design Academy or kids in art classes to help make posters or just decorate the cans to encourage people to throw things away in the right area. We also had an idea to put flyers on the desks of teachers who only have one bin to let them know how they can get more bins, or how to help their classroom implement the three bin system. We also wanted to simply make sure all the teachers knew what the three bin system was and how it worked and that it was a thing we do at Tech, as we have a bunch of new teachers this year who might not know about our system. We came up with some pretty good ideas overall.

The whole meeting was a little bit nerve-wracking overall, but exhilarating at the same time. At my old schools, when we wanted to “make a change” it would be through poorly made posters on computer paper that were ignored at best and often torn and mangled. This was the first time, pretty much, I’d ever actually talked to the administration about a program or idea that I/we had. It was really exciting and it felt good to be actually doing something. I think we presented to the custodians pretty well, although I felt we could have been more energetic with our presentation, and less monotone and reading-from-a-script like. We want it to feel more like a conversation than us talking at them. However, I think a lot of us were nervous, and we’ll get better as we continue practicing presenting, and get to know the custodians a little more. The whole meeting was a really good chance to let people know what we were doing and who we were. It also was really interesting to get to know some of the custodians more and see what it’s like to work as a custodian at a high school.

Meetings like this are really important because we as kids and we as the future need to know how to talk to people about what we’re passionate about in order to really bring forth a change for the better. I think the meeting was an amazing opportunity for us to get introduced to the process of altering something like this.

Written By: Ruby, Freshman OT Intern 

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Suzi’s thoughts on being a repeating intern!

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*Student Blog*

Having the opportunity to become an Earth Team repeater has honestly been nothing but a gift. I feel extremely grateful to be given the chance to work with new people sharing the same goal as we did last year. I’ve seen myself grow in numerous ways, and I can’t wait to continue on growing while helping others do so as well.

After conducting multiple audits last year, I felt pretty confident in doing our first audit with new incomers earlier last month. It brings back a whole ton of memories of all the audits I’ve done before. I believe that being a repeater does have it’s pros, seeing that my group’s brainstorm hypothesizing audit results was rather spot on. I knew what to expect and I had a pretty solid idea of what to do during the audit.

I do feel like somewhat a leader for the new interns because I was able to direct them and help them understand where certain items go and why. Although, I don’t know everything 100% clearly, I do try my best to educate them so they will be able to educate other people. I try to step out of my comfort zone in order to connect to other interns to have a better relationship as a group.

I can’t wait to have another exciting and fun year!


Interns conduct their first Waste Stream Investigation of the year!

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*Student Blog*

On Wednesday, September 22, the Earth Team interns conducted a waste contamination audit on the Upper Campus at Oakland Tech. The goal of the audit was to gauge how well students were following the three-bin system at the beginning of the school year, so we would understand what steps would need to be taken in order to decrease contamination levels. It is important to prevent this contamination because putting something in the recycling or compost bin that doesn’t belong there can cause large amounts of waste that surround it to be prevented from being efficiently reused. Likewise, when compostable or recyclable items are put in the landfill, it causes unnecessary trash pollution because these materials could instead be recycled or turned into soil.

On the day of the audit, it was extremely hot and everybody was tired after a long day of school and walking up to the upper campus. Sorting trash while wearing sweaty latex gloves was certainly not the ideal way that most of us wanted to be spending our afternoon, but it taught a very valuable lesson that we will continue to learn throughout the year at Earth Team.

We are working to solve a problem much bigger than ourselves, and it is important to remember how powerful each individual’s work is and to maintain a strong work ethic even when it is hard to do so.

Written by:  Ro’e, OTH Intern

In order to thrive as a public school with a newly implemented 3-Bin System, we must make sure our waste is being sorted properly by everyone on campus. One way to help ensure our waste gets sorted properly is through doing a waste audit. A waste audit determines the amount and types of trash which a certain group, school, or even household has produced. We completed our own waste audit at Oakland Tech’s upper campus, where we previously have not done any audits. Although all of tech’s students have been educated on the 3 bin system, doing an audit would help us see how much we need to improve our sorting and therefore how much more education is necessary.

After completing this process with all of our bags of waste and recording all of the correct data, our waste audit was complete. We closed the meeting by comparing our hypotheses with the actual contamination rates – some were very similar while others were worse/better than predicted. By doing this waste audit, we were able to find more information on how we can help make the 3 bin system at our school completely effective.

Written By: Lucy, OTH Intern 

When doing the Upper Campus Audit, we separated the recycling, compost, and landfill and collected multiple platforms of data; weight, volume, and frequency. Below are the results by weight (district’s way of measuring). 

Recycling = 7% Contaminated 

Compost = 19% Contaminated 

Landfill = 47% Contaminated 

After our audit we worked together to create a detailed report of our findings. The fact that the report is being shared to the district is scary and exciting. It is scary, well more nerve wracking because we know that our Audit Report will be read by important personal so we do not want any mistakes. However, it is more exciting than scary because our work is going to be used for the district which makes the work we have done that much more important work and we know that our work is for something greater than just our school which is also exciting. Overall,  I felt like the audit went smoothly and rather quick, we worked well together and we got it done.

Written By: Sophia, OTH Intern 


Interns learn the do’s and don’ts of the 3-Bin System!

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For Tech’s second meeting the team was trained on how to sort into the 3-Bin system in preparation for the upcoming Upper Campus Contamination Audit. The group worked together on an interactive activity then tested themselves later in the meeting.

In addition to the 3-Bin sorting, interns were also trained on the Marine Debris Tracker app. Interns conducted a on-campus litter assessment, to which they later sorted through. A total of 429 items were collected in a short 30 minutes. Interns did a fantastic job sorting through the trash at the end!

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*Student Blog* 

In Elementary School, there were many assemblies teaching us how to sort the things we throw away into the 3-Bin System. Although, it didn’t compare to the training that was conducted at the Earth Team meeting, which could be a result of being in a smaller group. Nevertheless, during the activity, I was scolding myself at how uneducated I was in the 3-Bin System, and started thinking about how we could successfully teach younger children (which we will be doing later on in the year). Furthermore, it made me realize that if I, and everybody else, had proper education on such a simple, but frequent thing we do everyday, we wouldn’t have many problems of bin contamination in our high school. Solving the problem at the root.

But that brings up another problem: how can we manage to educate and improve sorting in younger kids, while still educating our own generation? How are we to keep the world healthy before the younger generation, who is theoretically going to be more educated than us, gets the chance to do so? One of the simplest, but not most appealing solutions is just for us to work really hard. In this solution, there are many things that need to be situated. Such as: What is a simple way to educate schools but is rememberable? Last year’s Earth Team had an idea, which is to create easy-to-remember slogans that everyone can use when they need to throw something away. 

All in all, these past few meetings are mind-opening, and teach so much. With a goal to teach our community and make the world healthier, Earth Team will accomplish great things this year.

Written by: Kamilah, OTH Intern 

Thanks for reading! Check out our next blog as interns putting their new sorting knowledge to the test with their first Contamination Audit of the new year!


Welcome Tech’s 2017-2018 Interns!

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Earth Team is back at Oakland Tech for another year of hard work and fun! Jenna Topper, Program Manager for Earth Team and Tech Campus Coordinator, presented to over 20 classes reaching over 600+ students for these years program. After receiving over 70 applications we narrowed it down to 14 amazing interns!

Our team spent our first meeting getting to know one another, learning about the program logistics, and created bios. Check out our team HERE!

We look forward to another great year at Tech!



Interns finish out the end of the year!

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On Thursday, June 1st interns joined together for the last day of the year. Such a bittersweet ending after all we have been through together!

To celebrate all the leadership, stewardship, and service the interns have shown throughout the year, we held a potluck under the shaded trees. Interns chowed down on burritos and LOADS of chips! It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed getting of of the classroom to enjoy it, and each other.

Interns participated in a short reflection, reminiscing all the fun (and not so fun) moments of the year. Next, it was time for certificates and stipends! Woohoo!

We ended the day acknowledging our person sitting next to us, commending them for bringing their own unique spirit and character into the program. It was great to reflect not only on what we have accomplished, but also how we have grown together as one big eco-loving family!

It may have been the last day of the year but as we look back on campus we can sit with the reassurance that this year will never be forgotten. Oakland Tech has a working 3-Bin system, and Tech Interns are responsible for that! They have left their footprint!

Great job to the 12 Oakland Tech 2016-2017 Earth Team Interns! You all are incredible!