“In order for a community to thrive, its members must be engaged and care about it. If the people in a community don’t care about their community they won’t have any desire to maintain it,” says Rosemary Louise Odem, a senior at Louise S. McGehee School.

Before this year, McGehee had minimal recycling bins. Odem helped survey the student body and their disposal habits, and realized that people throw recycling in the garbage because of convenience.

Once the school got more bins, Odem realized that there wasn’t anyone to empty out the bins throughout the week. Odem then created the an Adopt a Bin Program, where middle and upper school students adopt a bin, decorate it and make it their own. Once a bin is adopted, the students are in charge of emptying the bin to help with the recycling program.

“The reason I initiated this because our new biggest issue with the recycling effort was the lack of organization – emptying recycling bins had been a free-for-all,” says Odem. “The Adopt a Bin Program provides order and lets students get involved in the movement towards sustainability.”

McGehee offers a mentorship program that gives juniors the opportunity to apply for a year-long, self-guided research project on any area that interests them.

Odem is working with Dr. Catherine Cresson and studying sustainability, specifically how McGehee can become more sustainable as a campus and a community. Cresson shares her love of discovering new ways to minimize her eco-footprint with Odem.

“One of the biggest aspects of my mentorship is educating the McGehee community and inspiring a change in their mindsets,” says Odem. “In order to do this, I have had to speak and present at multiple assemblies in lower, middle and upper school, as well as at meetings with faculty and administration.”

Odem is currently deciding between Texas Christian University and Rhodes College for her next step in schooling. She wants to major in science, but isn’t sure what she specifically wants to do. Even if she doesn’t become an environmental scientist specifically, she says she’ll always be an environmentalist.