Two Geneseo High School juniors are asking for help from area residents.

Two Geneseo High School juniors are asking for help from area residents.

Emma Snell and Zac Olson are both students in Rachel Brown’s language arts class at GHS, and they have joined forces in an effort to help the community and the environment.

The duo are organizing a “Clean the Canal” day. Volunteers are invited to join them at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 8 at the red drawbridge on East 900th St. to help pick up trash along the canal trail.

“We will provide garbage bags and rubber gloves to all volunteers,” Olson said. “We also will take care of the garbage that is picked up.”

Names of all volunteers will be entered into a drawing to win an Amazon gift card.

The two students created flyers to post in the school, inviting other students to join them in the cleanup effort.

“I researched and wrote a paper on the impact of humans on our global climate,” Olson said. “My partner, Emma, researched empathy and how it affects our society. We decided to join up and do our project together because they relate. We want to get the message out to the community.”

Their idea came from a class assignment asking students to plan and organize an action research plan relating to their chosen topics.

Brown said, “Ideally, during their junior year, students research a topic that they are passionate about and produce an argument on that topic. After submitting the research paper, they are given the opportunity to do something that they have identified as a problem through research. Students are asked to do something in our community that will have a positive impact and encourage change in some way.”

She said both students “went out side of their comfort zone to have a positive impact on the Geneseo community.”

“They are both role models for their peers, as they truly embodied what it means to research and respond to what the research says. I am proud of both Zac and Emma,” said their teacher.

Both students incorporated information from numerous authors in their essays.

Olson’s essay is “Future Generations May be Doomed,” and he wrote that he grew up appreciating Mother Nature, “because she provides us with anything and everything we need or want in life. My family loves the outdoors and always takes bike rides to the Dairy Queen during the summer.

“The Hennepin Canal, which runs from the Illinois River to the Rock River in Illinois, is the route we take. Over the years I have noticed a slow deterioration of the bike trail that runs alongside the canal – the weeds have become overgrown, the path accumulated hundreds of potholes, and the canal itself was only a couple feet deep because it was silting in. Eventually, an entire section of the bike path slid into the canal, and the path had to be closed off for a year. This goes to show that not just the State of Illinois, but the entire country is more focused on making money and increasing industrial production than taking care of the environment.”

His essay includes information about the stock market crash in 1929 through the end of World War II, and said the United States “was conserving everything from gasoline to soup cans. Once the war came to an end, industries that had been producing weapons and supplies for the war effort ware able to switch back to their normal products. This influx in goods that had been seen in over 15 years caused Americans to want more and more. The side effects of these products and the pollution that was caused by manufacturing went unnoticed. Mankind’s naïve tendencies coupled with greed, negligence, and power has led to significant climate change and ecosystem destruction.

“The destruction and deterioration of our planet is worse than people 50 years ago would have guessed because the problems are not seen for years,” Olson said.

“The living organisms of our planet are the foundation to everything that we know and love. At first, only small things were affected by climate change, such as certain species. After 150 years have passed, the effects are being seen in the large ecosystems that keep our planet running.

“Additionally, the longer mankind pushes off fixing the growing problem of climate change, the more it will hurt us in the future,” he wrote.

“The inorganic and organic materials that make up our planet are the things that allow us to prosper. Although fixing problems such as pollution and deforestation are extremely expensive, mankind cannot continue to destroy and disrespect ecosystems around the world if we expect to survive as a species for any significant length of time,” said Olson.

Snell’s essay was “A Little Goes A Long Way.” She wrote:

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

She said whether it was at school or home, having empathy for others and giving back has always been an important focus for her from a young age.

Snell recalled collections of warm weather clothing and food items held at her school to benefit the food pantry, and said, “I would always scour my pantry for cans of peaches and soups I enjoy. Around Christmas, my mom and I asked local nursing homes what items would be of use to the residents so we could accumulate these items to give. The feeling that I got when giving to those in need was a good one. I was giving back to others instead of receiving; someone appreciated the work I was doing.”

“Giving back from a young age taught me to be empathetic for others. Community service has a positive impact on a community, and the people who serve gain empathy and other valuable skills.”

She added, “Community service has a positive impact on a community and its people. Volunteer work can give students a good idea of what kind of job they can pursue in their future.”