Sophia DeMarco, 14, of Enumclaw, Wash., an eighth-grader at Enumclaw Middle School, has been a leader in her school and community in promoting environmental protection and other important causes. “I have always tried to create positive change in my school, neighborhood and community,” Sophia said. So, when she entered middle school, she sought a position on the school’s Associated Student Body (ASB) council because “I realized we could do more collectively than I could do alone.” One of her principal interests on the council has been to work on projects to protect the environment and to teach others how they can support that mission. “Our beautiful Earth has the ability to take care of all its residents if we will take care of it and each other,” she said.
Sophia and her fellow council members started small, by staffing a table at lunchtime to show students the difference between items that can be recycled, composted and thrown away. They then ran a campaign to encourage students to use water bottle filling stations with reusable bottles, and planted a sustainable garden at their school. Their recycling and water conservation efforts have reduced the school’s overall waste by 70 percent and saved over 100,000 plastic bottles from being deposited in landfills, said Sophia. To broaden their impact, Sophia and other ASB members have spoken about environmental topics in classrooms and a senior center, and made videos for their entire school. In addition, Sophia has volunteered at a local food bank, handed out backpacks filled with food for hungry kids, and helped raise money to support women and children in Africa.