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Student-led Environmental Initiatives for School

Ecological education is a new pedagogical approach different from the traditionally established acquaintance with nature. First, it is a building of a conscious attitude to the environment, awareness of the need to preserve Earthly treasures, and the desire to use natural resources rationally.

Second, it implies observance of moral and legal principles of nature management and promotion of ideas on its optimization, as well as active work on studying and protecting the environment in your area. And here, the student-led environmental initiatives discussed in this article come to the rescue.

Kiss the Ground

"If we could squeeze ourselves, we would be overwhelmed by the scale of life. Instead, there's a whole system under the ground that's thriving." These are the words of Jessica Handy, education coordinator at Kiss the Ground, a nonprofit organization with a mission to awaken people to the possibilities of natural regeneration through various media outlets.

This organization also focuses on environmental education for the younger generation, which is easily accomplished by working closely with corporations, restaurants, and farmers to create a "regenerative" food culture. According to Jessica, children must be taught to see themselves as part of nature, not separate from it. People are not the center of the universe, but they can choose whether to play a positive or negative role by being its integral part.

Soil conservation, in turn, is a way of sequestering excess carbon. Since healthy food choices begin with early education, the organization offers school teachers an NGSS-aligned curriculum to introduce students to the carbon cycle and soil science through a hands-on project. The creators of this curriculum believe it will be a "catalyst for schools to address climate education" because healthy soil is an essential part of a functioning ecosystem.

National Geographic's Geo-Inquiry Process

When geography teaching moves beyond the study of maps, it is where the actual learning process begins. National Geographic's Geo-Inquiry Process offers teachers and students a school curriculum about thinking like a geographer, asking yourself: Where is this? Why is it here? Why should we care? In creating projects based on a specific geographic research question, students must go through five steps: collecting and analyzing data, visualizing models, and acting on their findings.

In this way, students develop teamwork skills, analytical competence, and an appreciation for nature engagingly and playfully. In addition, the project encourages children to look for solutions to the problem they are observing. And when they realize their importance in solving some critical issue, the probability of completing the task increases several times. That's the view held by Jim Bentley, a National Geographic fellow and teacher ambassador for California's Education and the Environment Initiative.

Moreover, Bentley sees the geoscience process not only as a vehicle for citizen science but also as a vehicle for civic engagement. For example, his sixth-grade students in Elk Grove, California, identified their town's lack of equal access to clean water. Bentley was stunned by his results, as 95 % of the students were fully engaged in the project and performed well.


Exploring the outdoors is the best way for younger students to learn about science. However, this method has a downside: it is challenging to organize children outside the classroom considering many distractions. But that's where the successful Beetles school program comes in, developed by a team of environmental educators and professional learning experts at the Lawrence Hall of Science.

Here you get practical learning resources to help you and your students. According to the program's creators, Beetles enhances the craft of teaching by giving them valuable tools (in-depth scientific explanations, step-by-step instructions, adaptable templates) for profound impact at scale. Science experts worldwide have repeatedly tested the effectiveness of these tools and resources.

And now, an approach that prioritizes classroom discussion and nature exploration is more popular than ever. The program's creators believe that just outside the school walls, whole ecosystems open up before children, giving them an understanding of the complexity and beauty of the natural world.

And it encourages students to ask questions about how the world works. Beetle's materials strive to be inclusive and culturally relevant for students from diverse backgrounds. The program is designed based on research about how people learn. The studying process takes place through discussions with each other and touches on those things that the authors of Beetles believe are most important to the younger generation.

Green Schoolyards

How about creating an entire green city outside of school? If you've ever wondered that, then the initiative from Green Schoolyards America is something you'll want to do. The fact is that many school teachers in the United States need easy access to natural areas to teach environmental classes. So Green Schoolyards America decided to fix that problem by turning school grounds into green spaces with trees, grass, edible plants, and local biodiversity.

In this way, children have an excellent opportunity to experience nature up close. All nature elements help restore calm and focus and allow the younger ones to interact effectively with each other. In addition, Green Schoolyards actively collaborates with school districts and administrators, helps with design and construction, and develops curricula to create a greener campus.

On the organization's website, you can find about 235 downloadable activity guides created in collaboration with 187 environmental organizations. These guidelines represent all climate zones so that they can be used by teachers around the world, even with seasons in both hemispheres. Forbes and many other media outlets have repeatedly recognized the organization's revolutionary approach to school grounds design.

Alive and Awake

The mission of Alive and Awake, founded by Aaron Ableman, is for students to plant trees. School children also receive comprehensive information about the importance of this process for the absorption of excess carbon by trees and the benefits of planting a seed. Moreover, the initiative makes students feel positively connected to nature.

According to Ableman, nature already has many solutions people need. So we should keep that in mind. In addition, Alive and Awake sells schools "music tree kits" (downloaded music by various artists), priced from $25, that inspire kids to plant trees in their area.

Seed packets include soil for planting, and classes teach kids about carbon sequestration as a way to address climate change. Individuals or companies can fund these activities through a sponsorship program. Alive and Awake also works closely with ForestNation and other global environmental organizations to implement community-led native tree-planting programs.

Summing Up

Care for nature is one of the priority tasks in developing modern schools and the education system. Current environmental problems, and their severity, put before teachers the task of great social significance: educating the younger generation in the spirit of a careful, responsible attitude to nature and the protection of natural resources. And these goals can be achieved with the help of student-led environmental initiatives implemented in the school curriculum.

Guest Blogger

Odessa Powell has been copywriting and writing texts for business pages on social networks since her student years. She worked as an editor for the popular writing service review All Top Reviews. Currently, her range of professional interests includes the topics of self-development and motivation. In her free time, she enjoys yoga and learning foreign languages.



Internet4classrooms is a collaborative effort by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.




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