Ecology Club Believes in Building a Better Environment


Credit to Photo Submitted by Joe Brocksmith

The ecology club led by Joe Brocksmith goes spelunking at Meramec State Park in 2009.

By Anna Berthold

The environment has been a recent conversation in news and politics, as fossil fuel emissions and various corporate activity pollutes the earth and atmosphere. Figures such as Greta Thunberg have called for a cleaner earth; the “Climate Clock” was established in New York to show how much time is left before the destruction of the environment is unpreventable. However, people are working to stand up for a clean environment in the FHN community, too: people like environmental science teacher Joe Brocksmith and the ecology club.

Brocksmith is the sponsor of the ecology club, which is a group of students who do various activities around FHN and the community to keep the environment a clean, friendly place.

“It’s a nice thing being in an ecology club,” Brocksmith said. “We can do things outside which is COVID-19 free, friendly, and we don’t have to worry about being cooped up in the classroom.”

Brocksmith chose to teach science around the time he was in fifth grade, and is in charge of the ecology club because they correlate with his passions. 

“I have a passion for the outdoors and wildlife and nature, and I want to hopefully get future generations interested in the outdoors,” Brocksmith said.

Within a few years of teaching at FHN, one of the teachers suggested that Brocksmith sponsor the ecology club. He was excited to start the club back up again. This year with everything being different and seemingly out of place due to COVID-19, he believes it’s nice to get a breath of fresh air – both literally and figuratively – and help the environment without worrying about the rest of the world. With all the seemingly negative atmosphere in the world, not only is it good to help the environment but it ends up being helpful to people.

“I want to help the environment through FHN’s ecology club because I think the environment is such a pretty place and I’d like to keep it that  way for others to see and enjoy,” student Chloe Averbeck said.

The ecology club is more student-led than anything else. Students let Brocksmith know what they want to do for the environment or learn about within the field of ecology, and then Brocksmith proceeds to help them go about doing that and doing it with them.

“One year I had a group that wanted to do a behind-the-scenes of the St. Louis Zoo, and I did an internship there for college one summer so I had some connections in the reptile house, the herpetarium,” Brocksmith said. “So we had a zoo curator basically take us around behind the scenes, and we were there for about 45 minutes. So basically showed the kids what it’s like for a day in the life of working at the zoo.”

Throughout these different types of trips, they learn how they are helping the environment. Different years, they went spelunking, they did a campus beautification project for FHN campus and some days they will just go and do simple things like pick up the park or just simply make the earth cleaner. When the year comes to an end, they do Brocksmith’s favorite event for the ecology club. They will go have an end of the year picnic and a float trip where they pick up trash and just enjoy the river. Picking up trash is good for the environment because it helps the appearance, the animals and their health and helps make sure it doesn’t end up in our ocean. Most importantly, it gives our planet a future to keep thriving and for many more generations to continue living on it in a healthy way.

“I think humans in general are naive, and even arrogant in how their actions affect the planet,” Brocksmith said. “So when you can teach them and show them some of the negative effects of human activity, they’re more likely to not participate in those activities as well.”