The eCybermission team members, along with teacher-advisor Chandra Payne and Publix general manager Brian Goldstein, are working to make the school a beacon of environmental activism. PHOTO BY SAM POSTHUMA

When it comes to helping our environment, there’s nothing better to encourage in people than recycling, and that’s exactly what River Ridge Academy’s students are doing in their latest initiative.

Working under the U.S. Army’s Educational Outreach Program, River Ridge students are participating in the eCybermission, a web-based competition for grades 6 through 9.

The program prompts students to use science, technology and engineering to provide solutions to real world problems that are affecting their communities.

Using the advantage of the newly opened school, students and adult mentors are working to turn the Academy into a school that participates fully in recycling. Combining activism, outreach and their own personal research, students are dedicated to raising awareness, as well as bringing recycling centers, bins and biodegradable materials to the school.

The students are split into four teams – Plastic Recycling, Paper Recycling, Marine Life and, in a joint effort with Beaufort Middle School, Energy Conservation. Together, they’re working to clean up their communities.

“We’re trying to get people to recycle more, to make them more aware about recycling, and to not throw everything in the trash,” said Mac Noyes, a member of the Plastic Recycling team.

The Plastic Recycling team took the initiative and contacted Brian Goldstein, general manager of Publix on Buckwalter Parkway, who agreed to sponsor their mission. Together they’ve brought multiple recycling bins to the school to encourage less needless trash.

However, through all this activism, students aren’t just doing the teaching, but learning a lot about their cause as well.

The Marine Life team is studying the effects of trash and pollution on our local seafaring wildlife. They also are in the process of developing a website that will chronicle their findings and promote awareness for their cause.

Team members are spreading their knowledge to fellow students in morning “huddles,” River Ridge’s way to encourage students’ socialization and the discussion of ideas. Colin Beine, a member of the Paper Recycling team, has expressed his excitement talking with other students about their cause and how they intend to help the community.

Supplementing their activities to better their school, students and volunteers will be participating in Adopt-A-Highway cleanup programs throughout the year, in efforts to bring awareness of their efforts to the community.

Although a recently planned community cleanup was canceled due to inclement weather, the students intend to invite their neighbors to get involved and join them in future projects.

Sam Posthuma is a freelance writer and production assistant for The Bluffton Sun.