SA Students Making an Impact on Wildfires


Michele Martin

Lily Gelb, Sierra Greene, Charlie Hart, and David Hyde

Claudia Miller, Editor

Sonoma Academy’s Impact program every Wednesday gives students the opportunity to help the community and learn about something new. Three SA students, seniors Charlie Hart and Sierra Greene and sophomore Lily Gelb, and Humanities teacher David Hyde are the leaders and founders of the Wildfire Awareness, Prevention, and Recovery Impact.

Hart says, “We started the Impact to raise awareness in our communities about safety measures during a fire and how wildfires start.” They have lived through several wildfires and are impacted by the smoke and evacuations yearly.

During their Impact sessions they spend a lot of time gathering information about which high schools have already passed resolutions with Schools for Climate Action, a campaign started by SA students and teacher Nancy Metzger-Carter. In addition, they are currently working on the outreach portion of their project, when they will be sharing their fire and smoke safety information.

Stanford University conducted a study investigating the long-term health effects of wildfire smoke. They found that wildfire smoke can cause long-term health effects including changes in DNA, increased blood pressure leading to cardiovascular and lung diseases, exposure to PM2.5 particles that can create neurological effects including ADHD, autism, and reduced memory.

Stanford then reached out to Metzger-Carter, urging her to help schools in the US to pass resolutions to help keep students safe from smoke. Greene explains, “The resolution we did requires schools to acknowledge the responsibility that they have in mitigating effects of wildfire smoke in their schools and seeking funding for building and maintaining infrastructure that will protect students from smoke, and launching an awareness campaign about smoke pollution and wildfire smoke.”

The resolution was finished recently in early November and they are emailing school boards in California hoping to help the schools make a commitment to taking action in smoke safety. One step towards a safer environment is that schools should get HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) systems.

Next week, members of the Impact project will be interviewed by The Washington Post to share the difference they are making in high schools across California. They are hoping to pass the resolution at more high schools and help protect students.