Jeff Boyce Is No Longer Remaining Apolitical

20-year Environmental Science teacher doesn’t shy away from tough topics


Carly Philpott

CHANGING STUDENT LIVES: Environmental science teacher Jeff Boyce stands in the quad. With his iconic Chacos, Boyce teaches environmental science with an unmatched passion, and his students notice how much he cares. “The fact that I wasn’t even his student and he was going out of his way to do all this made me take a step back and really consider my potential pursuing environmental science,” 2022 graduate Bre Mennenoh said.

Carly Philpott and Peter Philpott

In West 419, Jeff Boyce teaches a science class like none other: AP Environmental Science. Boyce puts a spin on the class by taking a political perspective to educate on climate change and humanity’s effect on the planet. And despite what backlash he might get, he doesn’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

“I’ve had phone calls from parents who have told me that I’m pushing a pinko commie liberal agenda,” Boyce said. “The only agenda that I try to push is the agenda of science, which is that we observe, and we make conclusions based on our observations. So if that’s an agenda, then yes, I’m guilty of pushing an agenda.”

He sees the importance of getting students interested in environmentalism. “I can tell you that I have dozens of kids every year that graduate and go on and study in environmental engineering, environmental science, some environmental studies,” Boyce said. “[Instead of going down] the normal track, if you will, to go study business or marketing or something, a lot of these kids are studying sustainability.”

Students see the effort Boyce puts into his teaching. Some are inspired to follow a career in the subject because of him. Western Washington University freshman Bre Mennenoh, who studies energy studies and engineering, says she was heavily influenced by Boyce.

“I never actually had Boyce as a teacher, but he was definitely a contributor in helping inspire me towards this major,” Mennenoh said via text. “He noticed I was passionate about it and encouraged me to continue with it, even offering me an opportunity to work in Uganda to promote renewable energy use. In a way I guess I really do owe it all to him.”

Boyce has been teaching at Creek for 10 years, but he has taught AP Environmental Science since 2002. The class itself was approved by the College Board in 1998.

Prior to teaching, Boyce worked both privately and with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fixing environmental disasters. Rather than running around and “putting out fires,” he wanted to stop the problem at the source and teach the next generation how to stop climate change from further advancement. “I ultimately found that if I’m really thinking about whether or not I can do good, I think exposing you guys to these ideas and concepts [has value],” Boyce said. “When you go into the world…we can prevent some of the environmental disasters from happening in the first case.”

Boyce bristles at involving belief when talking about science. He strictly thinks about his class in a scientific, quantitative sense.

“Belief is not something we talk about in science. We talk about observation. And so what we observe is increased temperatures, changing climate patterns, and human activity that’s causing it,” Boyce said. “Whether you believe it or not, the temperature is rising. There’s a time and a place to talk about belief, and it’s in a philosophy class or religion class.”

He says that the politics of environmental science are unavoidable now but climate change deniers were the ones who made it political in the first place.

“I no longer ignore the politics of this class. I didn’t start making this class political, they started making it political,” Boyce said. “I feel like now, part of my job is to make sure that you guys know why people are manipulating information and for what purpose – what they’re trying to gain from it.”

But, as a teacher, he also emphasizes the importance of learning about not only the problem, but also its potential solutions.

“I really want to make sure that anytime I show you a problem, we’re showing you a solution to that problem,” he said.

This story was awarded Honorable Mention Personality Profile from CSPA.