Happy Earth Day!

Living in the Midwest, April is a most welcome time of year when we can more comfortably spend time outdoors and enjoy the sight of green grass, budding trees, blooming flowers and the sound of birds returning from their winter homes.

However, the arrival of spring can no longer be taken for granted.

As Rachel Carson warned us more than 50 years ago through her story of DDT contamination in communities across the country in her book, Silent Spring, we must continue to take action to protect our natural environment and slow down its degradation.

We must work to combat greed and the abuse of the environment by humans and to help people become stewards of the living earth, acting responsibly and carefully.

Additionally, we must remain vigilant to the continued rollback of policies that were put in place to protect our water, air and soil, and the creatures with whom we share the Earth. Human self-interest needs to be re-framed so that we humans live as an equal part of the earth earth’s systems and not the master of them.

As educators, we have a large role to play.

More than 80% of U.S. parents want their children to be climate change literate. We must help our students gain the knowledge, skills and global mindset of equity necessary to be prepared for an uncertain future and to become good stewards of the earth.

Addressing climate change can start with small changes to our individual lifestyles, classrooms and communities.

Research has shown that students can bring new practices and understandings to their families and communities.

These practices could be starting to recycle family or classroom trash, reduce water consumption when washing one’s hands or teeth, or helping the school cafeteria to reduce waste —all of which help the environment.  Small changes can add up to have a big impact.

So, as we commemorate Earth Day, what will you do to help your students take the first step toward making a change for a better future?

What commitment will you make to celebrate Earth Day?

Share your plans with others in the KDP community in the Educator Learning Network.

We really do have the power to change the world.

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Faye Snodgress is the Executive Director of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), International Honor Society in Education.

Embace Earth Day: Start A School Garden

Faye Snodgress is the Executive Director of Kappa Delta Pi
Garden 1

National Public Gardens Day (May 8) conjures up a multitude of thoughts for me. Since I was raised by a dietitian, there was a constant awareness of the daily need to consume foods from different groups and the power of good nutrition in terms of health, energy and a sense of well-being.  But this  focus on nutrition comes at a time of a heightened awareness across the country of the growing number of children who are hungry.  One in four American children live in food-insecure homes according to the USDA. On the opposite end of the food spectrum, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in three children struggle with obesity. There are cases where obese children are actually from homes where sufficient food is a challenge so the family is dependent on cheap, unhealthy fast foods.

As educators, we need to always look for ways to partner with community food banks and services and other local services that can help to provide quality food to students and their families.  As educators, we have another way to contribute to healthy eating and an increased food supply.  Creating a school garden is a way to engage students in a powerful learning opportunity while producing food that can be consumed by students and their families. The school garden can become a classroom where students can conduct hands-on investigations, learn about topics such as seed germination, pollination, compost, beneficial insects, and the many ways growing food locally can reduce our carbon footprint.

School gardens provide an opportunity for environmental education, in addition to the personal and social development by providing a practical dimension to these subjects. As children observe the magic of a buried seed producing a seedling and ultimately a fruit or vegetable, they learn not only where food comes from but also about the cycle of life.  Children are much more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables that they grow, even if they had not done so previously.

As the days get longer and the weather warmer, it is the perfect time to begin thinking about a garden, whether it is a pot in a classroom or a plot on the school grounds. Starting seed indoors is a great way to put the winter blahs behind and to help students look forward to spring.  Web sites like Kidsgardening.org  and facing the future.org offer tips on designing and building a school garden and associated lesson plans.

So this spring, consider a classroom or school garden and provide your students with a rich learning opportunity when  producing food that can be enjoyed in your school lunches  or donated to hungry people in your community.