Eco winners change school environment

David Olvera-Sanchez, Staff Writer

(May 24, 2013) — Inspired by biology and Environmental GIS teacher Dominique Evans-Bye, Joni Kang developed a keen interest in science during her sophomore year when she took a course in biology. Then, in her junior year, she took Scientific Research, also taught by Evans-Bye, in which Kang learned about cartography. This year, Kang once again found herself in Evans-Bye’s class, Environmental GIS, a class in which Kang worked on her projects hands on.
In Marine Biology, Kang joined the Riptides, an environmental team, along with fellow seniors Zane Toyon, Erit Khachatryan, Erik Babakhanyan, Adriel Dela Paz, Jae Kang, Christine Danaian, Tatiana Karamian and Megan Zari, who all contributed to their winning first place in the Lexus Eco Challenge. The challenge consisted of two sub-competitions: the land and water competition and the air and climate competition. The group eventually decided on the topic of biodiversity and ended up planting a native plant garden at Clark.
“The team’s success is due in large part to [Kang]. She motivates her team to get the best out of them,” Evans-Bye said. “They really look up to her as their leader. Because of her, the team is very cohesive.”
The Environmental GIS class also completed a DNA Barcoding project by collecting tissue samples from different fish and extracting DNA from them. The students then barcoded the DNA and entered it into the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). This database contains barcodes that help identify fish through their tissue samples. The barcodes can later be used to easily look up information about a certain species.
“In a way, my life has really circulated around this class,” Kang said. “Instead of just sitting in a classroom, I was able to make a difference in the world by getting out and about.”
Kang also said she loves to spend a great deal of time outdoors. “[The Marine Biology class] went on a boat trip to fish for rockfish and collected tissue samples for the GenBank,” Kang said. “I think this is when I really got into fishing.”
Since she is so involved with her church, she said she also enjoys camping while on church retreats. In addition to planning fun games for kids of all ages, Kang also chaperones trips to water parks nearby. “Sure, it gets a little weird because there are no showers, but the memories we create make it all worth it in the end,” Kang said.
After school, Kang also likes to help out for Tree People, a nonprofit organization which creates awareness about the importance of a healthy and green environment, by planting trees in Calabasas with her friends. “It was a lot of fun. The whole experience was really zen,” Kang said.
Kang plans to attend Cal State Los Angeles in the fall, and she has decided to major in nursing. “I definitely want to major in nursing because just being in the Riptides has enlightened me and taught me so much,” Kang said. “An individual can accomplish so much. It’s amazing.”