Dear Friends and Family,
As another school year comes to a close, I would like to celebrate the MarinSEL community and all we’ve accomplished together. Despite the ever-present stress of political upheaval, violence across the country and world, and the worsening climate crisis, our students, teachers and families have exemplified the commitment to, and hope for, a more resilient world.
Students at each grade level created positive change in the community, whether it was through researching local environmental issues with a community partner, building a green enterprise, or working as a sustainability intern. MarinSEL students managed the solar panels at the San Rafael Airport, created and sold paraffin wax free surf wax, worked with FireSafe Marin on the Ember Stomp event, and much more.
I find many reasons for optimism, beginning with the 30 members of the class of 2023. They are graduating as young leaders, equipped with critical 21st century skills: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. During their time at MarinSEL, these students have not only thrived academically, but have contributed to local sustainability projects and developed environmental career skills through hands-on, experiential learning. Perhaps most importantly, they are passionate and kind, ready to tackle today’s toughest challenges with the same grace they’ve demonstrated at MarinSEL.
Environmental professionals are needed more than ever before, as evidenced by the steady growth rate across the sustainability sector. Hiring rates for green jobs continue to accelerate alongside the adoption of corporate climate goals and commitments, and MarinSEL students are primed to become leaders. I can’t wait to see what positive impact this class of 2023 goes on to make.
By Harita Kalvai (Class of 2023)
Through my internship with the County of Marin, I’ve learned a lot: from web design and digital outreach skills, to creating pitches, and even joining in on Chamber of Commerce meetings. It’s been exciting to be involved in the community, focusing on the wants and needs of small businesses.
Although I worked with the County of Marin as a whole, my internship was primarily focused on working with the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, where I created opportunities for sustainable businesses to be spotlighted. We decided that the best way to do this was to make the Chamber of Commerce website more sustainability-focused, including a landing page focused on the county’s Green Business Certification program. This page would also highlight initiatives run by MCE, Zero Waste Marin, and other sustainability groups, as well as highlighting the Green Business of The Year awards. My goal was to have this page be the one concise location for everything sustainability-related on the website. Any business interested in the programs offered by the county could view this one landing page for all the information they need.
In order to do this, I used a powerpoint presentation to create a site layout. I wrote blurbs for all the different initiatives and events, and created markers to show how a site visitor might navigate through the site. This was a challenge at first, because there were a lot of things to be considered regarding how to organize the page to have the most impact. But throughout the course of the school year, the layout has come together, constantly changing and updating with new information.
As part of my internship, I was also in charge of pitching any new potential website additions to members of the Chamber of Commerce. To make these presentations, I attended a few Chamber of Commerce meetings, which were very insightful. As someone who wants to pursue a career in local public policy, being at these meetings gave me a glimpse of the process – how policies affect different communities and how the needs of small businesses can be met. I got a chance to talk to business owners and share my work with them. Finally, many of my proposed website changes were approved to be implemented.
One of my biggest takeaways from the internship is that the workings of a local government are intricate. There is a lot of work to be done, and this internship taught me a lot of things I didn’t realize were involved — such as digital outreach and marketing. Getting to meet with professionals, members of local government, small business owners, and working with my supervisors taught me a lot about the local policy career path.
Waste Management 10th Grade LEAD Project
By Dylan Kraus (Class of 2025)
Hello my name is Dylan Kraus and I am a sophomore in the MarinSEL program. This year our sophomore class was tasked with our final LEAD project. I was a part of the Waste Management group, along with Anton Shultz, Emma Scully, Deniz Black, Hannah Hodgson and Milena Taschian. Our group devoted time and effort all year long to change the routines and procedures regarding waste at Terra Linda High School.
Our group worked with the SRCS Head of Nutrition, Alan Downing, to set a baseline of what our limitations were in terms of obtaining access to and understanding existing contracts. Throughout the early stages of our project, we focused on spreading the word to Terra Linda’s student body to gain a sense of receptiveness. Our group was very eager to get as much done as possible. Our group’s main achievement, which took up the majority of our time, was our joint-partnership with ExtraFood. We started a joint program with ExtraFood to pick up the leftover food from Terra Linda food services. The amount of waste saved and food donated to a better cause because of our partnership was exponential. ExtraFood brings donated food to organizations such as food pantries, after school programs, treatment programs, community centers and more.
I believe our group learned a lot through our year-long project about the importance of connections and professionalism. Our 2022-2023 Waste LEAD Project team was the best group of people to work and achieve great things with!
Jax Snaxs – A MarinSEL Sustainable Enterprise
By Julia Hamilton (Class of 2024)
Over the course of this year, our company, Jax Snaxs has made it our mission to create an all-organic and completely natural dog treat, perfect for any pet. In order to provide your furry friend all the proper nutrients, our treats are made out of simple ingredients such as whole wheat flour, pumpkin puree, and cinnamon. The health of every dog is essential in the creation of our product; that’s why our treats provide anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits for any dog.
Jax Snaxs places equity at the heart of everything we do. We firmly believe in transparency, honesty, and integrity in all our business dealings. Our meticulous sourcing process ensures that every ingredient used in our dog treats is ethically and responsibly obtained. We use strictly organic ingredients to share our commitment to sustainable and humane practices. By promoting fair trade and supporting local communities, we aim to create a positive impact along the entire supply chain. We go above and beyond mere compliance with industry standards; we have set an ethical benchmark for others to follow.
At Jax Snaxs, environmental sustainability is a non-negotiable aspect of our business strategy. Recognizing the urgent need to protect our planet, we take proactive measures to minimize our carbon footprint. We used strictly recycled and recyclable glass mason jars so we do not have to use any plastic in our packaging.. This packaging reduces plastic waste by 6 grams with every purchase. This business has been a huge success, and we hope our product has not only helped dogs in need but also demonstrated a new model for sustainability across our community. This project has pushed us to think beyond our limitations and encouraged us all to do more around climate change and encourage an environmentally friendly mentality.
Stormwater Retention 9th Grade LEAD Project
By the Stormwater Retention LEAD Group (Class of 2026)
Looking for an easy way to do something with all this rainwater we have been getting? Well, maybe installing a rain barrel for your home is the right option. Rain barrels are containers that collect and store rainwater from rooftops via a downspout. You can save money on your water bills and even earn a rebate. Furthermore, the water you capture can serve so many different purposes, such as watering plants or bathing a pet. It is important that we conserve excess rainwater, as in the near future we will likely experience drought again. As the climate changes, extreme weather events are expected, including extreme dry seasons and extreme wet seasons. If a group of high school students could build this rain barrel in minimal time, so could you! Remember “Save Water Before it gets Hotter”
2 faucets ($12 each)
2 nut washers ($1 each)
2 O Rings ($1 each)
Plumbers Caulk ($8)
32 Gallon Trash Can with lid (50$)
Window screen ($7)
½ in. drill bit ($12)
Plumbers tape ($2)
Next Steps and Advice Looking Back
By Nola Gabbard (Class of 2023)
Hi my name is Nola and I am a MarinSEL senior! Throughout my four years in this program, I have met amazing people and built incredible relationships. I have overcome the fear of public speaking, and I have found a passion for business. Next year I will be attending The University of Arizona to pursue a degree in business marketing and management. A piece of advice I would give to future students is to always ask for help when you need it! There are so many teachers and staff that are always willing to help out students. Throughout high school, I often leaned on my teachers for support. If I was ever stuck on something, I would ask them for help, and they would steer me into the correct direction. Coming into high school was very nerve-racking, but with the teachers at Terra Linda, I was never afraid to speak up and ask questions. Overall I had a blast through the MarinSEL program, and I would not be the student and young adult that I am today without this program.
Wildfire Preparedness 9th Grade LEAD Project Reflection
By Penny Carroll (Class of 2026)
This spring semester LEAD project felt like it went by significantly faster than the fall one did. Even though we had an extra four weeks, it might’ve passed us by because of mid-winter and spring breaks. Much like last semester, our focus was on education, and all the ways that our group could spread the word about how to be prepared for wildfire.
At the beginning of our project, we set up socials so that people listening to our presentations would have more resources about fire preparedness. In the next few months, we worked on other aspects, like designing fliers, building our model house, and putting together a demonstration go-bag. This was a bit of a change from my first semester’s work, where our main goal was to share a video we created with as many students as possible.
This time around, I felt that we accomplished more, mainly because we set out with many more goals, while last semester, our work was much more concentrated. My advice to future LEAD groups is to touch base with previous LEAD groups on your topic, for any advice they might be able to offer. Every project is supposed to be your own, but I’ve found that seeking a bit of guidance can help so much with fleshing out your own ideas for a project. MarinSEL is what you put into it, and there are so many people willing to help students in whatever we set out to do.
My last piece of advice is to make sure you have someone with some sort of technological knowledge on your side. Whether it’s a younger sibling, a classmate, or a fellow group member, that tech guru might just save your mysteriously disappearing Canva slideshow if things go south. Every group will have setbacks, but in the end, it will all be fun to look back on and laugh about.