The power of Environmental Education. The power of stories. The power of youth voices. All together, that's the Power of Nature's Voices.
The Nature's Voices Project is a new effort by Green Schools Initiative - in partnership with Green Schools National Network and its affiliates in 48 states - to collect and share the inspirational stories from youth involved in programs that teach environmental literacy and inspire action for a sustainable and resilient future. By sharing these stories, we will grow the movement of people supporting green schools and environmental education.
A stronger movement will generate and transform more green schools, empowering more students to take actions to protect the planet.
The Nature's Voices Project provides:
- Opportunities to link Common Core Writing Standards with meaningful and inspiring environmental experiences;
- A means of showing the positive impacts and benefits of green schools and environmental literacy programs on academic achievement and civic engagement through personal and emotional stories; and
- A platform for youth voices to be heard by educators and adults with the power to act to reform and invest in our schools and promote the Green Schools Movement and environmental education programs.
We will share these stories with educators, policymakers, and the general public to inspire them to support green schools and to listen to their youth. Youth stories will be shared through social media, conferences, events, and other avenues, including at the March 2014 Green Schools National Conference in Sacramento, California. Leading up to the conference, we will collect and share youth stories and select the best ones to feature at the Conference Exhibit Hall via large-format and table-top displays and to tell their stories live at the plenary session attended by more than 1,200 people.
We will offer a scholarship to the student author with the best story to share his/her story and participate in the Green Schools National Student Summit, held in parallel with the conference.
After the conference, we will continue to use and publicize the stories in support of green schools policy reforms, state environmental literacy plans, legislation, and other advocacy forums. And all students that submit a story will be entered into a raffle to win a $50 gift card to REI.
We want to hear your unique perspective and invite you to share your story. Perhaps you or your students participated in a habitat restoration project with a school club, worked in a community garden, went on an outdoor adventure, or learned about climate change in your environmental science class. Follow our writing prompts and SUBMIT YOUR STORY, PHOTOGRAPHS OR A VIDEO HERE. The DEADLINE for submitting stories to be considered for the national conference is FEBRUARY 10, 2014.
Our Nature's Voices website is in beta format - but you can still be inspired by a few of the stories we've collected so far. We include one sample below from Nora.
Trash and More Trash, by Nora
The summer internship I participated in, "Climate Challenges, Climate Solutions" (sponsored by Green Schools Initiative, City of Berkeley, and Victory Gardens) has changed my perspective on humans' impact on the environment completely. As an intern, I worked together with other Berkeley High students to give back within our local community. We planted sunflowers in a community garden, transported mulch in Aquatic Park, hiked in Tilden Park, toured a permaculture food forest, tended elementary school gardens, and discussed ways to live more resiliently.
I grew up in a family where recycling is praised and plastic is the ultimate evil. But the summer internship provided me with much more insight. The day that especially woke me up and even frightened me a bit, was the day we all visited the Berkeley Transfer Station. I had never been to a landfill before, but after seeing all of Berkeley's trash, I felt as if I was standing within an island of trash. Dirty ripped mattresses, styrofoam containers, straws, cans, you name it. The sign that made me want to scream was when giant bulldozer trucks dumped more and more trash onto a gigantic pile. I think that actually seeing the gargantuan trash pile up close instead of just listing off statistics, truly hits the nail right on the head in terms of convincing the general population that there is indeed a problem at hand.
My fear of trash has been encouraged by my founding of the Stewards of the Sea Club. Twice every month, I lead Berkeley High students on trash cleanup expeditions at the Berkeley Marina. During the two hours of the cleanup, we extract old soccer balls, broken bottles, soda cans, plastic bags, toothbrushes, straws, and cigarettes from the nether of rocks and sand. As we pick up trash, we also document every piece of trash found and send this data to the California Coastal Commission. We hope that our efforts will pay off by seeing legislation passed that bans certain types of trash and chemicals used in plastics.
As I am applying to colleges, I am always faced with the dauntingly long list of majors each college offers. However, this list is not a problem for me; I immediately scroll down to find the major titled "Environmental Science." My experience with the environmental movement, founding Stewards of the Sea Club, participating in the "Climate Challenges, Climate Solutions" internship, and becoming involved with other environmentally-focused organizations has made it certain that environmental science is the focus of study for me.