Amazing Kids: Peter Whitney

Peter Whitney, 18, of Lake Forest, doesn’t think that what he’s doing to save the earth is very special.

“It’s what any concerned citizen should be doing,” he says.

But Whitney does a lot more for the environment than the average person. At home, he makes sure his family recycles everything they can, and whatever the city doesn’t pick up, he makes sure is taken to a recycling center.

“We compost a lot of the food scraps we have at our house,” he says.

At school, he’s president of the Environmental Club, where he’s successfully gotten new recycling bins installed in the lunchroom, organized Earth Week where local vendors brought in organic snacks, started a composting program to turn the organic waste from the lunchroom and the woodshop into fertilizer and held a dinner where all of the food served was grown within a 100-mile radius.

Whitney has taken his love for the environment outside of school, as well. For the past 4 years, he’s volunteered at the Lake Forest Open Lands Association, where participates in work days to clear away non-native species.

“Most people don’t realize the amount of non-native species around,” he says, adding that although non-native species look harmless, they affect the prairie eco-system and the food chain.

Whitney, a senior at Lake Forest High School, recently was awarded the Lorrie Smith Award for his commitment to volunteering. 

In the fall, Whitney plans to attend the University of Illinois where he wants to study environmental science and focus on humans’ affect on the earth. 

Whitney says he’s not sure where his career will take him, but he wants to do something where he’s making an impact. “I’ll definitely continue to do everything I’m doing now for the rest of my life,” he says.