Environmental Alliance Club serves community through city-wide volunteering


Ellen Barnes

Left to right: Cameron Mosley (11), Mandy Cassius (11), Abby Cassius (11), Alice Chao (11) and Ellen Barnes (12) work together to pot plants. The WSHSEA club volunteers at the Botanical Gardens as part of the club’s activities since being virtual this year.

In a world consumed by a pandemic, the White Station High School Environmental Alliance club (WSHSEA) still looks to make an impact. Most clubs this year have been searching for ways to continue to keep students engaged in activities. For WSHSEA, this includes volunteering around Memphis. 

Ellen Barnes (12), president of WSHSEA, believes that a club is a good place for students to learn, socialize and bond over a shared interest in environmental science. 

“I have a passion for environmental science, and I thought a group of people with the same passion would have a beneficial impact on our community,” Barnes said.

Despite not being able to meet physically, WSHEA holds virtual meetings over Microsoft Teams or Zoom where they facilitate discussion and engage in virtual activities. Vice president Gahana Nagireddy (11), started planning activities and ideas for the school year by  inviting speakers to expand more on the subjects associated with environmental science.

“We try to educate members about current issues about the environment by showing PowerPoints or having a round table discussion about a certain topic where everyone can voice their opinion,” Nagireddy said. “Speakers from various environmental and agricultural professions come to give advice and talk about their work.”

WSHEA volunteers locally by sprucing up outdoor areas by picking trash up, potting plants and weeding garden beds that have not been cleaned up recently due to the pandemic.

“We work at the WSHS Courtyard [and] the Botanic Gardens, and we are looking to do community service in other areas once COVID-19 conditions lessen,” Nagireddy said.

Being a part of WSHEA has many benefits, including becoming more ecologically aware, learning more about environmental science and participating in programs that contribute to the club’s mission. Destyne Jones (10) sees these opportunities as ways to learn and engage with the community even more. 

“I joined this club with hopes that I could help convince people to pay more attention to what they’re doing that could potentially be harmful to our environment,” Jones said.

Since WSHEA focuses on environmental science, the club’s vision is focused on finding ways to help mitigate climate change.

“We have discussed HABs (habitat algal blooms), which are prevalent climate change factors entering the environment,” Nagireddy said. “We discuss a lot of things surrounding climate change, such as emissions, rising temperatures, etc., and they are the basis of our club.”

Volunteering has allowed members to participate in an activity that continues to make landscapes clean, is aesthetically pleasing and inspiring for others to make more differences throughout the community.

“Personally, volunteering makes me feel more motivated to do more things for other people,” Jones said.

WSHSEA continues to make a difference by allowing students to engage and learn despite the current situation in order to better their surroundings and reduce climate change.   

“As high schoolers, I think we are making a difference by trying to advocate and raise more awareness about environmental issues,” Nagireddy said. “Every little thing counts.”