A group of high school students hit the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail on Saturday, raising awareness about the benefits of cycling.
The Newberry High School Climate Change Corps hosted its Environmental Bike Rally at the Boulware Springs Park trailhead, located at 3300 SE 15th St.
About 10 club members gathered at the entrance of the trail, handing out water bottles and granola bars to cyclists and pedestrians.
The students also displayed a cardboard poster that gave information on how a person can reduce his or her carbon footprint. One way is through cycling.
Cynthia Holland, a science teacher at Newberry High and adviser to the Climate Change Corps, said cycling not only helps reduce carbon emissions, but it can also be a good way to stay fit.
“It’s healthy for the environment and healthy for people,” she said, “a win-win situation.”
Club members interacted with more than 100 people at the trail, Holland said.
But they didn’t do it alone. Several members of the Gainesville Cycling Club helped club members raise awareness to passers-by about cycling.
Allyson Gill, vice president of the Gainesville Cycling Club, said the she was impressed with the students’ work at the event.
“The kids were very knowledgeable about the carbon footprint issue,” she said. “I’m proud of what they’re doing.”
The event was part of the club’s participation in the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national competition among high school and middle school students to make a positive impact in the environment, said Blake Stefanelli, a Newberry High junior and club member.
In January, the group was announced as a finalist in the Air & Climate portion of the challenge, allowing the students to compete for a $30,000 prize in the last round.
As part of their goal to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Stefanelli said he and the others built a solar water heater for the school roof and planted seedlings at the Watermelon Pond Wildlife and Environmental Area.
“Not only do we educate people, but we do things ourselves to help out,” he said.
For Holland, the events showed students the value of volunteering in their community.
“They see how they can make a difference,” she said. “It’s really empowering to them.”