That fuzzy critter perched on Nichole’s shoulder reminds us that one of her key interests in working to protect the environment.

Kate Alaks, Staff Reporter

Sophomore Nichole Cleveland, in addition to being in RBs choir and knowing thirty-four digits of pi, is very aware of the environmental problems in the world today.

Its very important because people dont realize that things wont just stay the same if we keep using up our resources and killing plants and animals, Cleveland said.

Her mom taught her to care for the environment, and she has been very interested in it since elementary school. She has been in Hollywoods Ecology club and visits RBs Eco Club, too. Also, she has been a part of Brookfield Zoos Youth Volunteer Corps (YVC) and during her freshman year she joined SEE team.

“I loved animals,” she said, and that carried through into Junior High and High School.

As a result, Cleveland is especially interested in animal rights.

For projects in Junior High I was writing about animal testing, she said. And at the zoo for YVC we worked for environmental things and how they affect animals.

During the summer, Cleveland often removes invasive species of plants, such as garlic mustard and European buckthorn, which threaten local ecosystems. In addition, whenever it rains, she can be found saving worms from drowning in puddles. If she sees a worm in any deep puddle of water, she will stop and use a stick to fish them out and put them in the grass at the edge of the sidewalk.

Its really unfair because theyre not dying due to normal circumstances, Cleveland said. Its the concrete roads that form the puddles that don’t drain properly.

However, Cleveland feels that it is especially important to raise awareness about environmental issues.

“The biggest thing that bothers me is the people with ignorance of environmental issues,” Cleveland said, “Because theres so many small things they can do that would make a big difference, but they dont know to do them.”

Both YVC and SEE team have helped Cleveland get the message across.

SEE team really helped me, she said, It really brought a nice perspective and helped me figure out what I can do to help.

As for the future of the environment, Cleveland has mixed feelings.

“I think that if public opinion about the environment doesn’t turn around then were going to end up in a world thats just barely livable,” she said, but added, “It just takes a few small steps to help the environment.”

This feature is part of our “Every Student Has a Story” spotlight.  We believe every student at RB has an important story to tell, and we’re committed to getting as many of them told as possible.  Look for new additions regularly.