HOW SCHOOLS CAN LEAD BY EXAMPLE FOR A CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE/Project Green School
Education is key to everything we do on the sustainability side. The best lessons are the ones you live out and show others the way.
Several years ago we hosted an event at the White House to honor Champions of Change. This event honored people doing amazing work helping to address issues of climate change. One of those champions was Robin Organ, the Executive Director of Project Green Schools. At the time, I was focused on greening the Federal Government and helping them to lead by example. We had a great deal to learn from Robin and the amazing schools across the country taking on the issues of sustainability head on.
In my line of work, I am fortunate to be inspired by the work I do every single day. I am also surrounded by my colleagues working across the clean energy industry to drive this industry forward with innovation and new ideas. All of this work is critical. In order to take on the challenges required to address the problems facing the world today, this work will have to go beyond my legacy and that of my colleagues. The future depends on developing the next generation of environmental leaders through education, project-based learning and community service. With that in mind, I’m excited to be joining the Advisory Board of Project Green Schools.
Project Green Schools (PGS) is at the forefront to create the next generation of environmental leaders, working with over half a million students across the country. Through their programs, PGS is engaging students at the intersection of STEM, energy, the environment and public health. When schools lead the way towards a more sustainable future, they are preparing the next generation of workers who will continue to innovate and tackle the challenges we currently face and those we’ve yet to encounter.
Korpita’s Kids Green Team of Anne T. Dunphy School Elementary School in Williamsburg, MA is a great example. Korpita’s Kids is the brainchild of Johanna Korpita, a teacher and visionary whose classes of 1st and 2nd graders have – for more than a decade – been crusaders for improving the environment and talking about it loudly with a whole lot of heart. They see trash in the river, so they tell their town that they need to do something about it. They cut through the red tape and now the town recycles plastic bags at the landfill. They see pictures of turtles and other sea creatures harmed by disposal of drinking straws, so they launch a campaign to encourage their schoolmates to “Skip a Straw, Save a Sea Turtle” and spread the word to the community at large. And project after project, the list goes on.
Another example is Zsofia Pasztor, Founder and Executive Director of Farmer Frog School Projects in Washington state. Farmer Frog works with teachers, parents, and students at all grade levels — preschool through college — to establish and maintain school gardens and integrate them into the curriculum. In the summer months, Farmer Frog offers externships for teachers and summer camp for students interested in sustainable food production. It also creates opportunities to sell the produce that they grow at local farmers’ markets. The Inter-Lakes School District in New Hampshire has led the way in clean energy for a school district in New Hampshire. Inter-Lakes School District has installed alternative energy (pellet) boilers to diversify their heating capacity, installed one of largest solar arrays of its kind at any New Hampshire school providing 85% of the electricity for the high school, built a greenhouse, established a Sustainability Club as well as improved lighting and HVAC systems. All of these practices and more have allowed the District to reduce their overall energy consumption while creating a hands on environment for students to learn about these emerging technologies in action.
At CleanCapital, we are fortunate to work with schools and universities from California to Delaware that are already embracing solar energy. These academic institutions are giving their students first hand clean energy experiences and educational opportunities. Students empowered with these skills are better prepared for college and a career in one of the fastest growing industries in America.
As Project Green Schools, continues to grow and expand, I’m honored to be a part of their amazing team and can’t wait to see what the future holds.