JOPLIN, Mo. — On this Earth Day 2022, a local park became a hands-on outdoor classroom.

The motto of a worldwide service club called Rotary is “Service Above Self.” But a group of area students don’t want to wait until they become adults to start putting that motto into action. They’re called the Joplin South Middle School Interact Club.

“Yes, we are the smaller version of the Rotary Club. We are sponsored by them,” said Alex Brady, President, Joplin South Middle School Interact Club.

7th and 8th graders in the Interact Club spent part of Earth Day in and around the Shoal Creek Education Center in Wildcat Park. The small group of students want to give back to their school as well as their community through service projects.

Chad Brueckner is the Rotary Club representative to the Interact Club that helps them figure out what projects to undertake and carry out that plan of action.

“The Interact Club is made up of students between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, usually a local school district that their motto is “Service Above Self” and they perform local community service projects here at home and also at their school,” said Brueckner.

“We are just here to look around at nature and do some small projects for Earth Day and our main focus is to improve the school with the help of the school,” said Brady.

Before hitting the great outdoors, students learned about oil spills, what causes them and what’s the best way to clean them up. Using vegetable oil to simulate a spill and dishwasher detergent and household items to clean them up.

“Got basically some pipe cleaners and some the streamers and other ways to try and suck up the oil and a lot of them did not work, they got the oil but then figuring out what to do with the vegetable oil that was on it was really difficult,” said Tiki Dunn, Interact Club Member.

“Well the kids today have offered to come by the Wildcat Glades park and help pick up a few things and do some hard labor hard work to around here to get the facility ready for spring and summer,” added Brueckner.