The Conservation Queen: A Look Into the World of Kirra McColl


Art by Lucie Edwards ('21)

Kirra poses with her taxidermied badger, who lives on a table in her room. The walls in her room are purple and green because they are “almost opposites on the color wheel,” she explained.

Kirra McColl (‘20) is many things: an Admissions Head Ambassador, a member of the Latin American Student Association (LASO), a champion of sustainability, a vegan, the captain of the Squash team, and an artist. Most importantly, Kirra is a well-rounded, universally loved individual and a perfect example of what it means to be a Bishopian.  

Her story is one that shows growth; she has matured greatly through the course of her time here at Bishop’s. Admissions Officer Mr. Francis Donald believes that this can be seen in Kirra’s development in the Head Ambassadors program. “When she first joined the group, she was really shy and quiet,” he reflected. “Now, she serves as a leader to many of the other members.” Fellow member Sarahi Castillo (‘20) believes that Kirra’s diverse interests help offer prospective families a well-rounded view of Bishop’s students, noting that Kirra “is able to provide a unique perspective to our Head Ambassador group.”

Besides maturing in school, Kirra’s style has also changed with age. “When I was little, I was very much a tomboy,” she said with a smile. “I think that was the reason for the pink… I wanted a change.” This “pink” Kirra is referring to is the brightly dyed hair she rocked until shaving her head in June 2017.

Kirra became vegan in tenth grade – another big change – after learning that a few of her senior friends, specifically CJ Delfino (‘18) and Rita Kimijima-Dennemeyer (‘18), had cut animal products out of their diets. Kirra decided to try it out one day and has been eating green ever since. Growing up, Kirra was exposed to conservation in her everyday life and is often surprised to find out how little some people know about something so familiar to her as recycling. Kirra’s relationship with sustainability has developed as well, expanding from her personal life to her academic life. 

Kirra has grown into a vital part of on-campus sustainability. A few years ago, she approached biology teacher Dr. Pamela Reynolds to discuss composting at Bishop’s. Dr. Reynolds suspected— and Kirra agreed— that Kirra’s ideas for a green campus stemmed from her community. She lives in Encinitas, which is a town in North San Diego that prides itself on its sustainable practices.

As the leader of the Green Campus Initiative (GCI), Kirra is responsible for the Bishop’s composting program. Last year, GCI hoped to get all faculty and staff on board with their composting plan. Kirra gave a presentation with the help of Drew Yashar (‘19), last year’s co-leader of GCI, to administration members, the kitchen staff, and staff members working in facilities. The presentation outlined the ways in which the faculty could support a greener campus.

Kirra not only advocates for sustainability on campus but also integrates this practice into her own life. Even Kirra’s Instagram username, @milkcratecity, references her sustainable lifestyle. “Milk crates are such a nomadic piece of furniture that anyone can have, carry around, and sit on,” Kirra noted. She goes on to talk about how universal something like a milk crate can be, ranging from the seat for somebody on their smoke break to the supplies used for a unique desk and chair set like the one Kirra has in her bedroom. 

Milk crates are not the only items Kirra looks for in alleys, however. The workers at Kirra’s local grocery store, Just Peachy, are familiar with her love for living as waste-free as possible and are used to finding their dumpsters scavenged through. Kirra goes by the store some Wednesdays after they close in search of perfectly good produce that was thrown out from their shipment because it looked ugly. Kirra is sure to clarify that she is not a fan of this being called “dumpster diving” because that is often associated with “eating old pizza or a moldy apple.” She hopes to rebrand the whole idea, starting with her new name for it: urban foraging.

However, Kirra’s creativity does not stop with sustainability – it influences her art as well. At the end of sophomore year, she dropped Advanced Theatre Production (ATP) and added Ceramics I/II, taught by Mr. Jeremy Gercke, to her schedule junior year for a change of pace. When asked about her involvement with clay during her senior year, a theatrical, almost comical frown painted her face. She explained that she was unable to fit Ceramics III into her busy schedule this year, so she had to resort to an independent study, which “is fun, even if it is only me and Mr. Gercke,” she added with a laugh. She describes her sculpture style as “Andy Warhol-esque,” specifically highlighting her ceramic Spam containers. “I don’t know why I made them,” she laughed, “I’m a vegan! It makes no sense.” 

Her favorite art form, however, is collages. She likes this medium because “it feels like a cycle of life: you take something old, cut it up, and make it look cooler.” She makes these collages out of old magazines found at “thrift shops, swap meets, and dumpsters.” She paused for a second before saying, “yeah… they’re mostly from dumpsters.” 

She often features her favorite collages on her Instagram, where they live next to zoomed-in pictures of dogs, mushrooms that she feeds, and a photo from last December of her cradling a taxidermied badger captioned “This holiday season don’t forget to say merry christmas to your local roadkill.”