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Adam Hovey: Science teacher, community activist, Riverkeeper volunteer

Adam Hovey

Adam Hovey is at science teacher at South Park High School. He is the leader of the school’s Green Team, in which students and teachers work together to keep the community green. He is also a volunteer for the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, an organization that helps promote, preserve, and protect the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers. And he’s head coach of South Park High School’s baseball team, the Sparks.

AV: An organizational goal of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is to restore the ecological health of the Buffalo and Niagara River systems. What do you feel is the most pressing issue affecting this delicate system?

Hovey: Maybe education. Along the corridor, it goes through an area people pretty much avoid because there’s not much going there. It’s a lot of brownfields. I know at the park I’m currently at the Department of Transportation is building a bridge there. The guy showed up and said, “Oh, nothing goes on down there anyways.” At which point I unloaded hundreds of pictures of kids. Well, there are some things going on there. Education is critical. Involvement. If you don’t educate people there about what’s going to be going on, you might have opposition.

AV: Since you’ve had so much success with the Green Team at South Park High School, have you thought of expanding the program to other Buffalo schools? And if so, what would it take to facilitate an expansion?

Hovey: We just got done with the fourth annual Western New York Environmental Youth Summit. In that process, we mapped out a group from Mount Mercy Academy. They are our sister school. They are very interested. Bill Rogers, from First Hand Learning, does a lot of work with inquiry-based science at community centers. Hopefully, he’ll be taking our kids over to the community center and mentoring younger kids. We’re also hoping to be in South Buffalo Elementary, doing some peer-based learning—high schoolers being the experts teaching the elementary kids.

AV: You work with many high school students. What small daily changes could a young person make in contribution to environmental progress?

Hovey: I would say first get involved. Don’t make it just some sort of hokey idea. I think that it’s a legitimate thing to be doing. It’s not uncool. We planted over 250 trees in the past four years here. We’re creating native habitats. We ripped out 1,500 square feet of Japanese knotweed, which is an invasive bamboo species. We take water samples, which educates ourselves about how nasty the river can be. It increases awareness. They can do all the simple things like use reusable bags, turn off the lights, all that stuff that Mom told you to do. When you have the compounded efforts of a lot of us, it will add up. Get involved. Stay informed. There’s a lot of practical solutions. They’re not just pie in the sky anymore. My mother always told me: “When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago.”

AV: You feel that environmental progress can happen, people can change, and we can maybe slow down the process of climate change?

Hovey: Absolutely. At some point, we have to. Whether it’s 10 years from now. 40 years from now. There’s only so much gasoline. At some point we’re going to need to get a solution that’s viable. Both economically and so it doesn’t harm the air, water, dirt, you name it.

peter vullo

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