As more people are becoming educated on green issues, more and more children and young adults are also starting to learn about these important issues and are wanting to do their part to help make a difference. While it may seem as if there is little that kids can do to take action, there are numerous organizations designed to help them get involved while also educating them about eco-friendly and sustainable living. Here are a few of the many organizations out there that prove that kids and teens can go green too.
This not-for-profit corporation has a goal to make sustainability education a part of every K-12 schools curriculum. Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation (CELF) offers numerous programs with a focus on teachers, students, parents and administrators. Programs range from consulting services for schools, training for teachers and sustainability education programing for students. One program in particular that caught our eye is the School Eco-Footprint Program where students can give their school a report card for once – also known as an environmental audit — and create an action plan based on their findings.
Each year students across the country celebrate Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day to get active and do their part to help the environment by cutting down on their carbon footprint. Ultimately, these special events that take place once a year strive to make bigger changes like long-term walk and bike to school programs, new sidewalks and pathways as well as implementing stricter safety guidelines for those walking or biking. The first Walk to School Day, which is held on October 9 this year, was held in 1997 and now takes place in over 40 countries annually. Last year was the first Bike to School Day and this year there were over 1,300 schools that participated in the event that was held on May 8.
Green Youth Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation whose goal is to help nurture environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyle choices amongst a diverse group of kids. This organization believes that sustainability educational is vital for students of all ages and through their programing, helps students learn about conservation and preservation. The elementary and middle school specific programs cover a variety of topics including recycling, water conservation, air pollution, food and exercise. Meanwhile, high school students get hands on experience with energy/water audits, participate in monthly service projects, hear from green speakers and have the opportunity to participate in internships to help prepare them for careers in sustainability and conservation.
Teens Turning Green is a student run organization with a goal to help high school and college students live sustainably and make green choices. Project Green Challenge is one program they host each year during the month of October where they send a daily challenge via email where students can get points and daily prizes. At the end of the month, 14 finalists are invited to the Challenge Finals (aka Green University) where they create innovative platforms for sustainability that are later incorporated into the Teens Turning Green programing the following year. Conscious College Road Tour is another program that stops at 10 college campuses in the spring where they host town hall meetings to talk with students about green issues. Lastly, the Freshman Green 15 is a program to help inspire freshman to live green lifestyles for all four years while they are at college. These students are given 15 eco-tips, an eco-friendly packing list and an eco-survival kit.
Not all college students can afford or take the time to attend a study abroad program. The GREEN Program (Global Renewable Energy Education Network) offers college students a hands on learning experience in a compacted two weeks where they can earn college credit. Students accepted into the program will visit functioning renewable energy facilities in Costa Rica or Iceland, such as wind turbines or geothermal plants. GREEN is also now offering a new Teach GREEN program where educators can attend a 5-day workshop in Costa Rica to teach GREEN in their classroom.