Posts Tagged 'environmental education'

COME TOGETHER: Kids’ Ocean Day 2017

I Love A Clean San Diego once again partnered with the California Coastal Commission for our 19th annual Kids’ Ocean Day. On May 18, 2017, over 900 students, teachers, and volunteers united together to clean up Mission Beach and the surrounding area. These dedicated 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders rallied together from 7 local schools to protect our oceans by collecting thousands of pieces of litter and marine debris. Common items found during the cleanup included small pieces of plastic, snack wrappers, straws, and Styrofoam. The students’ cooperative energy and childlike verve were tangible on the beach that day.

Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.

Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.

Following the cleanup, students united with community volunteers to form an aerial art image. One of the most common questions we receive is, “how do you make the aerial art happen?” Here’s a peek behind the curtain:

Each year, I Love A Clean San Diego’s education department designs an aerial art image that follows the statewide theme for all 5 Kids’ Ocean Day partners. On the day of the event, the ILACSD aerial art team assembles before daybreak to produce the much-anticipated image. Equipped with irrigation flags, surveyor’s tape, and extra-long measuring tapes, our amazing staff spend the wee hours of the morning meticulously plotting each and every point of the aerial artwork image. This year’s theme – COME TOGETHER – draws on the power we have when united in our efforts to protect and defend the oceans and coastlines from pollution.

As students began to file into the formation, anticipation was high; everyone was excited to see the helicopter fly overhead, photographer inside, capturing our hard work from the sky. It was a gratifying moment to see all the students, teachers, volunteers, and staff sit in stillness within the image for 10 brief minutes. After months of planning, we were all rewarded with a powerful piece of art so vast it can only be seen from the sky.KAAB2017finalimage

The success of the day could be measured by the faces of the beaming students. They felt a sense of accomplishment from doing their part to help clean up the environment. The students now stand united as true “Scholars for the Sea!”

Kids’ Ocean Day is a magnificent event that helps to bring environmental awareness and stewardship to the forefront of these students’ minds. It is a day of joining forces and demonstrating to the kids what it means to work together as one. The students walked away from Kids’ Ocean Day feeling empowered and armed with the understanding that their personal choices have power and their everyday actions will impact our environment and our future.

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Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

Gleaning Canva GraphicNo there isn’t a typo in the title, gleaning is a real technique that helps minimize food waste and hunger. What is it? It’s a  practice, used for hundreds of years, that seeks to reduce the amount of food that is wasted because it is not visually appealing. Gleaners harvest the crops that are not used by farmers and deliver them to those in need.

Linda Trozer, a member of the Society of St. Andrew, explains the unbelievable reality of agricultural food waste in the U.S. today.  Food is wasted at a disturbingly high rate, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food are left — this is pre-consumer food — to go to waste in this country.”

What does this have to do with the average American family? The answer is food deserts. Millions of Americans are living in these areas that are lacking in cost-friendly, nutritious food.

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By throwing away edible food for superficial reasons, farmers prevent access to fresh fruits and veggies for thousands of Americans and contribute to the food desert epidemic. Naked Juice produced an interesting documentary about food deserts and their effect on American neighborhoods.

Gleaning provides an excellent solution to the this problem. If it sounds like something you might want to participate in, check out local organizations such as San Diego Roots and Crop Swap  for upcoming events. Whether you are a farmer or a novice gardener, anyone can play a role in reducing food waste by gleaning or distributing gleaned produce.

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Let’s glean the food waste away one lemon tree at a time!

If you want to learn more about the gleaning process and other food waste reduction practices,check out our past blog about gleaning and I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycling website. We can all be lean green gleaning machines! 

How to love the beach & its ecosystems

Today’s blog comes from one of our Education Specialists, Becca! When she’s not in the office or a classroom, you’ll most likely find her at the beach!photo 4

“People protect what they love” ~Jacques Cousteau

Sometimes we chose to live by the ocean, but lack understanding of it. When we understand what we are living next to, we can help take care of it. This blog is for beach goers who admire the ocean but do not yet completely understand it.

What is all of this stuff lying out on the sand? What are those holes I see in the sand when the wave returns to the ocean? What is that smell on the beach?12513850_2611838140855_3439960453982877308_o

What is algae? Algae is a living organism that photosynthesizes like a plant. The difference between the two is that plants produce flowers and algae does not. For those of you that have not yet snorkeled or dived in a kelp forest, it is something worth mentioning. Kelp is one of the most important producers off the coast of California. What is it producing? Oxygen for all air breathers, homes for animals, and food for animals like urchins. It is also one of the many species of algae you will find washed up along the beach.

Sand also covers our beaches and thanks to this resource, we have interesting animals living in the sand called Pacific Mole Crabs. Pacific Mole Crabs are filter feeders; they eat by waving around their secondary antennae in the water. They don’t have claws, so don’t worry about those when you hold them! These creatures burrow through the sand and act as an indication of the health of the ecosystem. Their presence reassures us that we have healthy beaches.  When you next see bubbles in the sand after the wave returns the ocean, dig down to find some Pacific Mole Crabs.

How about the smell of the sea breeze? The ocean’s smell is a combination of a few elements. If it were a recipe, it would look a little something like this:

  • Bromophenols: Comes from fish, oysters, shrimp, crabs, and oysters as a result of their diet which includes algae, worms, etc.
  • Dimethyl sulfide (DMS): The clammy or sulfur smell comes from bacteria that eat phytoplankton.
  • Dictyopterenes: Pheromones of algae, as most would guess, smells like dried seaweed.

Next time you walk down to the beach, feel free to explore! The more you about the beach and its ecosystems, you’re bound to discover whole different world!

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Sources: http://www.popsci.com/seasmells – ocean smells

The Play-by-Play of Kids’ Ocean Day

Hats off to another successful Kids’ Ocean Day – ILACSD’s 18th and the state’s 23rd  annual event! Kids’ Ocean Day is a unique, annual event centered on engaging our youth as environmental stewards. After a school assembly about ocean conservation, 3rd-5th grade students from eight Title 1 schools around the county joined together at South Mission Beach to leave a lasting impact on their environment.

Take a look at how we spent the day!

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Staff arrived at 5:00 AM to lay the aerial art design in the sand.

 

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Volunteer groups, like Kohl’s Associates in Action, led students during the cleanup to ensure the day ran smoothly!

 

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Thanks to additional sponsorship this year, ILACSD provided 50 reusable buckets for the cleanup, reducing the amount of disposable trash bags used at this event.

 

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Volunteers reviewed safety tips for the cleanup and got students energized for the day!

 

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Over 950 students, teachers, and volunteers participated in a beach cleanup, ensuring fewer pieces of land litter become marine debris.

 

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Zero Waste in action! Most students created temporary trash bins from repurposed milk jugs, which they later recycled.

 

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Fresh air + fresh dance moves + a freshly cleaned beach = a great day.

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Students waiting patiently for the helicopter to circle overhead and capture the perfect shot of the aerial art.

And lastly, the official image! Great job, team! To get involved with an upcoming event, please visit CleanSD.org!

Aerial Art - Kids' Ocean Day 2016

Chula Vista students explore the impact of plastics

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ILACSD Education Specialist, Grace!

Today’s blog is from our Education Specialist, Grace! Grace is apart of ILACSD’s team of educators which leads thousands of students and adults each year in hands-on activities that showcase how our choices impact the environment around us. Read on for highlights from one of our favorite presentations from last year! 

First, a little background.

Plastic has been integrated into almost every facet of our daily lives, from plastic water bottles and grocery bags to polyester clothing and packaged food. It has become so incorporated into our society that often times it is hard to perform routine tasks without the use of plastic. Subsequently, a lot of  plastic makes its way into our environment, travels through our waterways, and often finds its way into the ocean. One of the most notable areas where this garbage collects is the Pacific Garbage Patch.

Various animals are impacted by plastics in the environment, through entanglement and ingestion. One animal in particular that has been severely harmed by this trash is the albatross, a seabird that frequents the Pacific Garbage Patch. Through this ingestion of plastics and other trash, many of these birds become malnourished and starve.

How can we make a difference?

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Grace engaging a group of students in a discussion about what they found during the bolus dissection.

In conjunction with our educational programs, students at High Tech High Chula Vista were given the opportunity to witness this tragedy first hand through their dissection of an albatross bolus. Much like an owl pellet, these birds naturally regurgitate indigestible items including squid beaks, and volcanic rocks that help with their digestion, all components of a typical bolus. However, as the students discovered, today’s boluses tell a different story. Students removed fishing line, bottle caps, plastic and foam bits, and polyester fibers from boluses, highlighting the level of impact that we are having on the albatross and other marine organisms. Plastic has become so ubiquitous in the environment and the lives of these albatross that of the 10 boluses the students dissected, 100% of them contained some degree of plastic fragments.

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100% of the boluses that the students dissected contained plastic.

Although many would feel discouraged by these findings, the students at High Tech High Chula Vista felt further empowered to continue their journey toward having a more positive impact on their environment. If you’re looking for simple ways to start reducing your personal plastic usage, consider refusing single-use straws, investing in reusable sandwich bags, and committing to remember your reusable grocery bags. Get started on the right foot by attending I Love A Clean San Diego’s free Zero Waste Home workshop happening this Saturday, January 9th! 

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Learn the basics of living a zero waste lifestyle at our next free workshop happening this Saturday, Jan. 9!

Also, keep an eye out for our upcoming blog about the students’ 70 Day Shake-up project and how they integrated creative environmentally friendly habits into their everyday lives!

 

 

Black Mtn. Ranch beautified after last year’s wildfires

On Saturday, December 5, I Love A Clean San Diego closed out its 2015 cleanups with a volunteer project and guided nature walk at Black Mountain Ranch Open Space in the 4S Ranch neighborhood.  More than 200 volunteers from the community came out to beautify this natural area, which had been badly damaged by wildfires in 2014.

In just 3 hours, volunteers filled a 40-yard dumpster with things like furniture, exercise equipment, and metal drums—all while learning about the native and non-native plants that grow right in their backyards. Check out these photos from the event.

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Safety first! Our team kicked off the event with a presentation on how trash can travel from this neighborhood out to the coast, local recycling rules, and safety reminders for the cleanup.

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This girl scout knows the importance of picking up small pieces of litter, which animals often mistake for food.

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Our Executive Director, Pauline Martinson, and long-serving board member, Bill Haines, joined forces with our volunteers to beautify the area.

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Our Education Manager, Emily Nelson, and Clean Committee member, Andrew Heath, led a group on a nature walk of the area. The volunteers used field guides to help them identify native and non-native plants. They saw a coyote, too!

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Farther down the trail, some young volunteers helped load bulky items into our truck, which we used to shuttle trash to the dumpster.IMG_2352

Tiny trash is important to pick up, but of course the big stuff matters, too! A team effort helped pull this old fridge out of the ravine.IMG_2363

Two of our board members, Vince Reardon and Michael Page, got their hands dirty alongside our Program Assistant, Vince Rivas, and volunteer Stan Nelson. This is their last haul of debris before calling it quits for the day.

Special thanks to the 4S Ranch-Del Sur Community Foundation for providing the funding to host this project and educate the community about caring for our environment!

Visit CleanSD.org for more information about upcoming 2016 events!

Introducing Grace! Educator & Ocean Aficionado


We’re excited to welcome Grace as our newest educator!  Get to know Grace and what fuels her passion for the environment by reading our brief Q&A.

What brought you to ILACSD?

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When Grace isn’t in the office or the classroom, you’ll find her scuba diving, stand up paddle boarding and all around enjoying the ocean that she cares so passionately about.

I was very excited to begin working at ILACSD as an Environmental Educator because it allows me to combine my interests in Marine Biology and the ocean with my passion for teaching and conservation. From a young age, I was always inspired by the ocean and could spend hours looking at sea stars in the tide pools. However, it wasn’t until my college internships with Heal the Bay that I realized it was something I wanted to help protect.

During my very first Coastal Cleanup Day I was given the unique opportunity to do an underwater SCUBA diving cleanup under the Santa Monica Pier. We pulled out cell phones, cameras, bike tires, fishing line, and beach toys, just to name a few. Not only did we find trash, but we also found animals, including crabs and sea hares, living among the trash. Seeing how these animals’ lives had become so impacted with this trash was the moment that I knew I wanted to help make a difference. And by working for ILACSD, I get to make that difference by inspiring environmental stewardship in students throughout the county.

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Ocean acidification, caused by excess CO2 being absorbed into the ocean, makes it difficult for corals and oysters to make their shells.

What environmental topics are you most passionate about?

If it wasn’t already obvious, I’m extremely passionate about anything that has to do with the ocean. As an avid scuba diver, and someone who loves experiencing nature. One topic that is close to my heart is ocean acidification. Ocean acidification makes it exceptionally difficult for calcifying organisms (corals, krill, oysters, etc.) to make their shells. It is caused from excess CO2 in the atmosphere being absorbed into the ocean. By teaching students about how we contribute to environmental issues, it gives them the power to make positive changes that lessen their impact on our ecosystems.

What is your most recent environmental goal?

Even during my short time working at ILACSD, I have learned so much about trash. I recently learned $1 of every $10 spent goes towards packaging that is thrown away. My most recent goal has been to buy food with less packaging. This means buying different food items, going to different stores, and making sure fruits and veggies are a big part of my everyday diet.

What do you enjoy most about being an environmental educator?

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Grace engaging students in a discussion about how litter impacts marine animals. The jar she is holding includes bottle caps, a lighter and other debris that was found in an albatross’s stomach.

I thoroughly enjoy interacting with the students that I am teaching! It is fun to experience their personalities as I present and discuss important issues with them. By helping them to see another perspective on the world, they can have a better appreciation for nature, which inspires them to protect it.

Do you have a favorite presentation?

One of my favorite presentations is our Enviroscape presentation, which uses a model of city along with sprinkles to represent different types of pollution. It really allows the students to visualize how pollution can make its way to the ocean and impact the animals that live there. Typically we do this presentation with 3rd graders, which is a really fun age because they are all extremely excited to share their ideas and own experiences.

I also really enjoy presenting our watershed program to AP Environmental Science classes because it allows me to use my background in science to incorporate higher level topics such as ocean acidification and eutrophication.

For more information about our presentations, email our Educator Manager at education@cleansd.org!

Join Grace & the rest of ILACSD team in our efforts to keep San Diego, and the Pacific Ocean, clean and beautiful. Our next cleanup is on December 5th at Black Mountain Ranch – click here to learn more!

Also, if you’re interested in joining the ILACSD team, check out our open positions and internship opportunities

 

Get to know our Program Assistants!

Today’s blog comes from I Love A Clean San Diego’s Development and Marketing Coordinator, Sarah who was inspired by all the hard work that our Program Assistants put into our programs. In addition to our office staff who coordinate events, and educate students about the environment, we have a wonderful team of Program Assistants, also known as PAs.  Read on to learn more about what it means to be a Program Assistant!

(Left to right) Angelica (PA), Halle (intern), Pia (PA), Nicole (PA) and former PA and current Community Programs Coordinator, Moriah all showing off our brand new temporary, I Love A Clean San Diego tattoos at Coastal Cleanup Day!

It’s no secret that we’ve been busy this Fall with everything from Coastal Cleanup Day, to Beautify Chula Vista Day, and most recently, our Fall Social Fundraiser. If you have ever wondered how we do what we do all year round, we’re here to let you in on a secret – Program Assistants. Program Assistants are not volunteers, but rather they are hired members of our staff. While they don’t normally work in the office, they are there to support us when we need them most, at cleanups, fundraising events, and educating students all over San Diego County. If you’ve ever been to one of our events, there is a good chance that they handed out the supplies that you needed, weighed the trash you collected, or came to your student’s classroom. Read below to learn more about each of our amazing Program Assistants!

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Grace joined the team just a couple months ago to support our environmental education department. When she’s not engaging a classroom full of students in a discussion about waste reduction and pollution prevention, you’ll find her running, stand up paddle boarding, and SCUBA diving. Check back in November to read her very first blog!

 

 

 

DSC00301Lauren is a recent Boston transplant who became interested in ILACSD after seeing our logo on a Clean Beach Coalition poster in Mission Beach. Lauren has a degree in environmental studies, and she’s most looking forward to connecting with San Diegans about recycling—at her last job, she successfully initiated a recycling incentive program for her coworkers.

 

DSC00315Vince also joined I Love A Clean San Diego earlier this year and has helped out at a number of our cleanups and adopt-a-beach presentations. In his spare time he’s working to start an organization with a mission to turn beach volleyball players into environmental stewards.

 

 

 

 

Angelica Truong 131 x 172Angelica is in SDSU’s Masters of Public Administration program and works part-time for the County of San Diego conducting research for the Climate Action Plan, LEED Neighborhood Development and other sustainability projects. Angelica is passionate about sustainable development and has a background in urban and regional planning. She’ll also be assisting with our recycling hotline!

 

SONY DSCIn addition to her work at the Water Conservation Garden, Pia has been a great extension of our staff as a program assistant. She runs a fabulous blog where she has highlighted her work with ILACSD and other environmental organizations.  She was also invited to speak on San Diego’s CW6!

NicoleNicole is one of our longest serving program assistants who helps out in the classroom, as well as at cleanups and fundraisers! We are very thankful to have such a knowledgeable and versatile team member like Nicole to support our programs.

Now that you’ve gotten to know our amazing team of Program Assistants, be sure to say hi to them the next time you’re at one of our events! For a current list of upcoming events, please visit our website!

 

Standley Middle School Goes Green!

Emily, ILACSD Environmental Educator

Today’s blog comes from our Environmental Educator, Emily! Emily spends most of her time traveling to different schools around San Diego County and teaching students about different ways they can help protect their local environment. Now, schools all around the county are starting to implement more efforts to be green. One shining example of this is the Green Team from Standley Middle School in University City. Today’s blog highlights the inspiring efforts of these students and their advisor. Read on to celebrate their successes and gain ideas for starting a Green Team at a school near you!

Their journey begins in 2013, when Shelley Rannikko and her colleague took a group of students to Yosemite National Park. This trip inspired the students to become eagerly engaged as environmental stewards. As Shelley recalls, “the ten hour road trip was the perfect place to brainstorm about how we could spread the word of recycling at school through a club called ‘Green Team’.”

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In the short time since its inception, the Green Team has made a significant impact on their campus. Here’s a look at how the club is structured, and what they’ve been able to accomplish:

Mission: The purpose of our team is to educate the students and families of Standley Middle School about the importance of recycling and how to accomplish it. The team is in its second year and maintains over 35 members, with more wanting to join every day! They meet during Academic Prep.

Member Responsibilities: Students are given chores that change weekly. Chores include:

  • Bin Placement – bins provided through an Educate! grant
  • Bin Return
  • Garbage Ghosts – using trash pickers, they pull recyclables out of campus trash cans and place them in the recycling bins
  • Radical Rinsers – rinse recyclables, like plastic bowls, lids, and milk cartons
  • Green Team Ambassadors – pass out Green Team Bucks to students using the recycling bins
  • Recycling Engineers – take cleaned items to the recycling dumpster
  • Bottle Brick Makers – pack Gatorade bottles with non-recyclable items; bricks will be used to construct a bench on campus,
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These students are packing bottle bricks, which will ultimately become a bench at their school! Great example of reuse and waste diversion!

Recycling: Since its start in 2013, the Green Team has recycled:

STANDLEY’S STATS ON RECYCLING
Item Pieces or Pounds
Juice Pouches 3370
Go Go Squeezes 474
Chip Bags 2000+
Milk/Juice Cartons 150*
Plastic Bowls, Plastic Containers 200+*
Cans and Bottles 300+ pounds

*Collection started last week

Through the TerraCycling program, the students are able to recycle more than the average blue bin. GoGo Squeezes and Juice Pouches are sent to TerraCycle, where the company pays for shipping and gives money back to non-profit organizations or to a charity of your choice from their website. Check your waste hauler’s requirements, or look into innovative programs like this one!

posterGetting Others Involved: The Green Team has implemented a loyalty recycler card program to encourage students to recycle. Additionally, Green Team Ambassadors walk the quad during lunch, giving out Green Team Bucks for placing recyclables in the appropriate bins. For every six stamps or Green Team Bucks, students can earn an otter pop!

The Green Team creates videos that are shown school-wide during the Principal’s Chat. These videos promote fundraisers, the loyalty recycler card program, membership in the club, and explain what can be recycled on campus. Even Principal Bill Pearson got involved by researching how to reduce paper fliers and informational posters. His solution? Turn existing bulletin boards into chalkboards! A combination of exterior flat paint and unsanded tile grout made this possible, and it brings a bit of character to the quad.chalkboard

Looking Ahead: In addition to the bottle brick bench, the Green Team hopes to combine efforts with the Garden Club to create worm bins and start composting at their school.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact Shelley Rannikko, the Green Team Advisor, at (619) 920-2183 or srannikko@sandi.net.

 

Related Links for more information:

What is TerraCycle?:  https://www.youtube.com/user/TerraCycleVideos

Drink Pouch Recycling Brigade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG5CdXhRtrE

Bottle Bricks: http://www.utne.com/environment/eco-bricks-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx

Q&A with Emily, ILACSD Environmental Educator

Emily Melear, Environmental EducatorWe’re switching things up for today’s blog! Emily originally joined the ILACSD team in September as one of our part-time educators. You may remember her from recent blogs about food waste reduction as well as eco-friendly holiday tips! Within the last month, however, she moved up the ranks to become a full-time Environmental Educator! Read on to learn more about Emily and why we’re excited to have her as a part of our team!

Q: What brought you to I Love A Clean San Diego? 

Emily poses proudly with her Girls Scout patch she received from ILACSD!

Emily proudly points to a patch she received from ILACSD when she volunteered at a beach cleanup with her Girl Scout Troop all those years ago!

A: I Love A Clean San Diego stands out because of its genuine, word-and-deed methods to improving the environment. I am impressed by the extensive reach of our programs, and how we offer something for everyone. After years of teaching kids in an outdoor setting, I was looking for some way to teach about the environment while in the city. ILACSD was the place for me! I have a substantial collection of early memories where I was taught environmental stewardship (including ILACSD beach cleanups with my Girl Scout troop!) while still very young. Learning that mindset at an early age leads to a lifetime of positive actions. In today’s world, it is essential to have our youth be environmentally minded.

Q: What environmental topic are you most passionate about?

A: I love teaching about food waste because it’s a simple way to get started. Students can easily grasp the concept of “giving back” as they watch food decompose in the compost bin, and as plants thrive in the composted soil. In my previous camp experience, we would graph our food waste at each meal. During just 5 days at camp, our students regularly reduced their food waste, often achieving a waste-free meal by the end of the week. As I travel to various sites to deliver presentations, it’s exciting to see so many schools with gardens and compost bins.

"I love teaching about food waste because it’s a simple way to get started."

“I love teaching about food waste because it’s a simple way to get started.”

 

Q: Do you have a green New Year’s resolution?

A: Shorter showers! Despite my efforts to live an environmentally-conscious lifestyle, that’s one guilty pleasure that has avoided the chopping block. I have decided that 2015 will be the year!


Q: What do you enjoy most about being an environmental educator?

A: The most rewarding moments are when you see the information click for a student. Whether it’s when they see a picture of a seal tangled in plastic, or they get fired up and declare war on pollution, that moment of impact reassures me they will be more conscious about their future choices.

Microplastics

These microplastics are harmful to our environment and our local wildlife.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite presentation?

By helping students experience the nature in their own neighborhood, they can better understand and value the nature surrounding them every day.

By helping students experience the nature in their own neighborhood, they can better understand and value the nature surrounding them every day.

A: That’s easy – Nearby Nature. The most effective way to teach people to care about the environment is to have them develop a personal relationship with nature. Spending time outdoors will more effectively teach a person to respect their environment than any fact or figure. A close second would be our SDG&E presentation/cleanup combination. Immediately taking action after learning the harms of litter will leave a longer-lasting impression on the students’ behavior.

 

Q: What do you look forward to most as you settle into your new position?

A: I’m excited to be able to speak to the environmental issues in our local community, find new ways to encourage sustained engagement, and encouraging kids across the county to work toward a clean San Diego.

 

Do you have a passion for environmental education like Emily? ILACSD is looking for an experienced educator to join our team as a part-time educator. For more information about the position please click here!

To apply, please send cover letter, resume, and availability to Samantha Russo, srusso@cleansd.org. No calls, please. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

 

 

 

 

 


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