ABET CEO Dr. Michael K. J. Milligan with Severna Park High School student, Josie Garrett, at the WSA Conference.

ABET recently sponsored high school student Josie Garrett at the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy’s (WSA) 2024 Annual Conference, which focuses on environmental education and waterway conservation. 

Garrett is a junior at Severna Park High School in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where she and a friend initiated a courtyard beautification project at the school to address issues such as litter and plant health. She consulted teachers at her school to get started on the project, eventually reaching out to ABET CEO Dr. Michael K. J. Milligan and his wife, Alison, for their input. 

After working with Garrett, Dr. Michael Milligan extended her an invitation to the WSA Conference. Reflecting on her experience at the conference, she remarked, “It really showed me that there are a lot of people out there that are passionate about the Earth, because I’m passionate about the Earth and our environment, but I feel like I’m not really surrounded by [others who share the same passion], especially in school.” 

Sponsoring Garrett’s attendance aligns with ABET’s commitment to preparing future problem solvers amidst growing concerns for sustainability and environmental safety. Conferences like WSA’s offer invaluable opportunities for young individuals like Garrett to connect with mentors and explore potential career paths.  

“A lot of people my age, including myself, when we think about improving the environment, we don’t really express our ideas that much because we’re not surrounded by a lot of people who are very environmentally cautious,” Garrett said. 

Attending the WSA Conference allowed Garrett to interact with professionals in the field, inspiring initiatives for both her personal sustainability efforts and the courtyard project. She learned about plant selection and strategies to engage her peers in the courtyard beautification process. “I’m going to really emphasize how we’re trying to make it look better and to have a healthier environment in there, because people are in there all the time, and it’s one of the main things you see in the school,” she voiced.