Caroline Reitmeyer, a junior this September at SCH, can recall memories of her family taking initiatives to minimize their carbon footprint for almost as long as she can remember.
During a community service trip last year, Reitmeyer met the Co-Founder of the Hawai'i Wildlife Fund and the idea behind her project for SCH’s trademarked Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) program started to take root. Reitmeyer decided she was going to examine how we can most efficiently process and recycle plastic from the ocean. As a result of her innovative efforts and hard work, Reitmeyer was one of two SCH students awarded The Steele Entrepreneurship Fund—a grant provided by Margaret Steele to cover expenses for a summer entrepreneurship course, camp, or unpaid internship.
Over the course of the four-week summer internship, Reitmeyer worked with mentors and other interns to teach younger students about Hawai’i’s microclimates, habitats, and various species. Some days would consist of cleaning up the Kahului harbor on the north shore and collecting data about the different types of marine debris, while other days were spent immersed in traditional Hawai’ian culture learning about the ways in which it was—and still is—oppressed.
She recalls: “The people I worked with were definitely my favorite part. Since we all have the same values and views on the environment, we all get along really well. Coming from so far away and being so young, I was really nervous about going, but the people I worked with could not have been better...Most of them didn’t believe I was in high school and it ultimately turned into an ongoing joke between all of the interns!”
With a new school year just around the corner, Reitmeyer plans to return to her CEL project at SCH with a fresh perspective.
Ed Glassman, Director of the CEL program at SCH, shares: “Caroline is an entrepreneur at heart. She is pushing to tackle an important environmental issue in a unique and creative way. Through our Venture Accelerator program, she will continue to have opportunities to test and refine her invention—a machine that processes plastic waste and turns it into filament for 3D printers. I’m excited to see her progress throughout the year.”
Despite the challenges she encountered during her internship, Reitmeyer looks back at some of the things she’s learned. “Between the fires on Maui, tropical storms that hit back-to-back, and scheduling conflicts with the younger students, I learned how to come up with something quickly when our way doesn’t go as planned...This summer, I have learned about so much more than the turtles and ocean.”