Editor’s Note: Eddie Phelps is Pam Phelps’ son and also an editor on staff. He was not involved in the making of this article

Lakes, parks, and prairies in the Oswego area have been affected by pollution for years. With school starting, it can be hard for Oswego High School students to find ways to be involved in the environment. Upcoming clubs, volunteer opportunities, and school classes can help students earn their volunteer hours and help clean the environment. 

Here are some ways to be involved: 

1. Take a class on environmental science. 

Oswego High School offers multiple classes, including Environmental science, Advanced Placement environmental science, and earth and space, which can help students get a better perspective on Oswego’s environment. 

The more students involved in environmental activities, the more awareness of pollution issues is spread. Many teachers at Oswego High School are experienced mentors in helping students find their way in helping the environment. 

2. Join the Environmental Action Club 

Environmental teacher Zachary Horn has taught at Oswego high school for seven years. From running the environmental clubs at OHS to installing solar panels, Horn is a longstanding resource for students who want to get involved in the community. 

“[Students] can always take courses in environmental science, regular or AP,” Horn says. “And the Environmental Action club meets every other Thursday morning and they come up with ways they can be active around the school or in the community.” 

By joining the Environmental Action club, students can learn ways the environment is affected due to humans. For example, cheap trendy clothes or “fast fashion” are currently responsible for carbon emissions and depletion of non-renewable resources.

The club meets every other Thursday in room 114. Any questions or for the class code, ask Zachary Horn. 

3. Plant Native Plants 

Biology teacher Pam Phelps uses native plants as a way to restore the local environment in her free time. 

“Native plants are plants that originated in our area before people were here,” Phelps says. “And some animals need those plants for survival.” 

If people have plants from other countries or if the plant is hybrid it can really affect animals that depend on native plants like the monarch butterfly that is dependent on a certain type of native plant. 

Wild bergamot (monarda fistulosa), Oakleaf hydrangea (hydrangea quercifolia), and Black cherry (prunus serotina) are common native plants found in Illinois. 

Native flower with pink petals
Credit: Riley O’Brien, 42Fifty

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The three R’s can be a long lasting resource to help be involved. 

Reduce means to cut the amount of trash we use. A way to reduce the things we use can be things like transportation. For example, instead of driving, try a bike ride or walk. Reducing how much we travel can minimize how much carbon pollution is put into the environment. 

Reuse means to find new purposes for products we would normally throw out. A few ways to reuse can include using things like reusable cups, straws, or shopping bags. By reusing items we can decrease the amount of pollution build-up like plastic. 

Recycling means to turn something we cannot use into something that we can. For example, old plastic bottles can be used as storage for things like paper clips or laundry detergent.  Recycling bins are all around Oswego high school, this can be an easy way to recycle paper, plastic, metal, or glass so it can be used again instead of wasted. 

Pam Phelps also explains, “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” and the importance of why it is written in that order. 

“The first goal is to reduce your waste,” Phelps explains. “But if you’re going to Starbucks and buying a cup that you’re going to throw away, don’t feel too good about yourself.”

Reduce, reuse, and recycle can be an enduring resource for students who want to find ways to be involved in the environment. For more ways to get involved in environmental activities, talk to your science teacher.

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Hi! My name is Riley and it is my first year writing for 42fifty! I am extremely excited for this experience and I cannot wait to share stories. I am involved in news editing but focusing more on sport videos and articles for the website.



  1. Thanks for looking out for the environment, Riley! I hope students see your article and consider taking a class or joining a club to promote environmental health.

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