"Energy -- Alternative and Human -- Makes the Difference"
Walnut Elementary Education Center
School Contact Information
Bret Sutterley, Teacher firstname.lastname@example.org Walnut Elementary Education Center, Turlock Elementary (K-5), Public Under 1000 Students surburban
32 years teaching...
Toyota Tapestry, BP A+ Grant Awardee
Mentor and Master Teacher, Speaker,
The Green School Story
We addressed these 4 Pillars of a Green School
- Use Resources Sustainably
- Create Green Schoolyards and Serve Healthy Food
- Teach Stewardship & Student Action
We have taken these steps from the 7 Steps to a Green School
- Establish a green team
- Adopt a policy
- Do a school Environmental audit
- Develop an action plan
- Integrate into the curriculum
- Monitor progress
- Involve, inform, and celebrate with the community
Environmental Challenge or Goal Addressed
The Walnut Elementary Green Team has been working for four years to involve students and the community in energy conservation, schoolyard greening, reducing waste, and recycling -- and the kids have made lots of videos to share their experiences and lessons learned.
Our Green School Approach
Walnut Elementary Education Center seeks to be an advocate and leader in environmental education in the Central Valley. To accomplish our goal, we took a hands-on, multi-pronged approach to greening.
- We applied for and received several grants, which enabled us to create an alternative energy center housing a wind turbine, a solar array and a pond.
- We trained our teachers in energy education through National Energy Education Development Project, so they could integrate our energy education and projects into the curriculum.
- We created and hosted our own Walnut Energy Faire, a community-wide event to make the stakeholders of our area more energy and environmentally aware.
- As a campus, we practice reducing energy waste by shutting down and unplugging. This action alone has saved us lots of money.
Greening & Gardening:
- We participated in our city's Go Green Events, and on Arbor Day, we planted many trees in the park next to campus.
- With grant money, we created a a school garden with a compost area and worm farm.
- We run numerous recycling projects on campus, and have hosted eWaste recycling events annually for our community, so the school has become a center of learning not only for students and their families, but for the surrounding community as well.
- Ms. Garner's 6th grade class took 5th place in a nationwide recycling contest in 2008.
Spreading the Word:
To share what we've learned, we created Go Green Videos which were broadcast on the web.
The changes came gradually, as teachers came on board, and enthusiasm built in the community.
Changes and Benefits We've Achieved
We're pleased and proud that our students have become more energy aware, water conservation-oriented, and recycling-focused.
This year, Mrs. Loomis' 6th grade class entered the 2010 America’s Greenest School Contest, explaining what they would do if they were in charge of greening at their school. Walnut Elementary was among the top 10 finalists in the contest.
We built a strong team that includes the principal, Mark Holmes, who supported the grant projects; teachers, who have put in extra hours and extra effort to support "Green education"; our students, who eagerly participate.
Special kudos to Toni Cordell of the City of Turlock for organizing our "Go Green Week," and to Trisha Hall of the Turlock Irrigation District for her time and efforts to promote energy education to our staff and students.
I guess I put in lots of extra time myself!
How We Involved Students
We find lots of ways to educate through greening, and have fun projects to engage the kids:
- We participate in Go Green activities, and develop awareness with Go Green presentations.
- We have run recycling contests to collect the most recyclable items or simply to raise classroom funds. We have also held recycled art nights to showcase creative uses of "junk".
- We create many videos, which are always high energy with lots of enthusiastic response from our kids. One of the videos, entered in the 2010 America's Greenest School Contest explained how taking a bus instead of individual car rides would be cost efficient would reduce carbon emissions.
- We are a "Salmonids in the Classroom" school: we have 3 active salmon rearing tanks that teach students about salmon populations and green concepts to keep rivers healthy.
Our Timeline for Change
We got started about four years ago, in 2006.
Resources We Used
Our Inspiration and Motivation
I grew up in the 60's. That era taught us to be environmentally aware. 32 years later as a teacher, I'm still motivated to teach about it. Earth... It's the only home we've got!
We have written additional grants to expand and enhance our garden with a butterfly habitat.
We've also built support among teachers to hold our 2nd Annual Walnut Energy Fair.
In 2011, we will once again participate in the Go Green festivities.
Our Advice to Other Schools
Never give up! Some projects take years to develop and implement.
In the meantime, kids need to be taught daily about caring for our Earth.
Get people who are passionate and organized together around a common purpose and very cool things can happen... Think outside the box.
Tools to Share
You can see our student videos at Go Green Videos
Toni Cordell is a great resource, full of ideas and energy: TCordell@turlock.ca.us
Forestry Institute for Teachers (FIT) has great materials (Project Wild, Project WET, Project Learning Tree.... and let's not forget the Lorax by Dr. Seuss!