Environmental Education in Georgia

Environment Friendly Living

Arcado Elementary is located in Lilburn, GA and serves a very culturally diverse student population. Our school is committed to being “Green” and the Arcado PTA Environmental Committee sponsors events in celebration of America Recycles Day, Arbor Day, and Earth Day, as well a weekend student/staff/faculty clean up and beautification day. The school and PTA also jointly sponsor our Environmental Club or “Green Team” which collects classroom paper weekly to be recyled. We have made environmental education videotapes featuring members of our Green Team including, the “Recycle Rap” and “The Big Three” video. Our Green Team also visits K-2 classrooms to read environmentally-themed books.


Overview:


Strengths:
Arcado Elementary’s greatest strength is parental involvement and staff’s enthusiasm in educating our children about environmental issues. Because we are able to communicate and work together on many environmental education projects, our entire school curriculum is enhanced to the benefit of our students. Because of our varied recycling programs, we consider one of our strengths to be our recycling programs and contests.

Needs:
Our cafeteria continues to be a weak spot in our Green efforts. We have been unable to find a way to recyled the estimated 800 plastic milk bottles our school produces daily, although plastic water bottles are picked up weekly by a parent volunteer and recycled in her curbside bin. Finding a way to rinse and store the bottles until they can be picked up for recycling, and finding a recycler that will collect them from the school, continue to be the main obstacles. When the state-mandated switch to styrofoam trays occurred, we had a hard time convincing our cafeteria staff to collect the trays for recycling by Evergreen Corporation, even though they could be stacked and collected by the county daily. We finally implemented tray recycling in Spring of 2009, only to have Evergreen Corp. fall victim to the economic downturn shortly afterwards. The amount of trash coming out of our cafeteria on a daily basis continues to frustrate us.


The Story:


Arcado Elementary is located in Lilburn, GA and serves a very culturally diverse student population. Our school is committed to being “Green” and the Arcado PTA Environmental Committee sponsors events in celebration of America Recycles Day, Arbor Day, and Earth Day, as well a weekend student/staff/faculty clean up and beautification day. The school and PTA also jointly sponsor our Environmental Club or “Green Team” which collects classroom paper weekly to be recyled. We have made environmental education videotapes featuring members of our Green Team including, the “Recycle Rap” and “The Big Three” video. Our Green Team also visits K-2 classrooms to read environmentally-themed books.


Educational Programming:


During the week of America Recycles Day (Nov. 15) our school’s Green Team broadcasts recycling tips each day on our school news show. We also air the “Recycle Rap Music Video” that was made by our 2006-07 Green Team and we collect used athletic shoes for the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program and used soccer equipment to be reused through the Passback program, which distributes these items to communities in need.

During the week of Georgia Arbor Day, we sponsor a telephone book recycling drive and sponsor student essay and art contests in coordination with a community partner who awards prizes to the winners on our school news show.

During Earth Week, our school celebrates with daily environmental tips from our principal and Green Team members. The Green Team distribute Earth Day-related items to the entire student body. In past years, we have given out lollipops, stickers, coloring books featuring lessons about the 3 R’s and water pollution. On April 22 or the school day closest to Earth Day, we request that all students, faculty and staff wear t-shirts featuring the earth, wildlife, or plants. We sell Earth Day t-shirts every other year. A banner is placed on the front portico during the entire month of April. We also sponsor a school-wide clean-up and beautification day during this month.

Field trips vary from year to year, but usually include trips to Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, Stone Mountain, Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center, and the Vulcan Quarry.

Two of our faculty members are certified in the Project Learning Tree, Project WET, and Project WILD programs. Our Science Specials teacher, Mrs. Debi Shane, has attended Outdoor Classroom Symposium workshops along with several members of the Arcado PTA Environmental Committee. Our Green Team sponsor, Dr. Kathy Dean, attended the week-long Rives to Reefs workshop, classes at the Elachee Nature Center, and the Georgia Association of Marine Educators conference.


Outdoor Classroom Features:


While our school once had a wonderful Outdoor Classroom, it was destroyed during the construction of an addition to our school building in 2005. Our PTA committee applied for and won the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) of Georgia’s 2007 Ugliest School Yard Contest for which the prize is a free landscape design. In coordination with this landscape designer, our principal, Science Specials teacher, and PTA Environmental Committee planned a new Outdoor Classroom that incorporated many suggestions and ideas garnered from a teacher/student survey. A $5000 Lowes Toolbox grant gave us the funds to carry out those plans and the Grand Opening of Arcado’s Outdoor Classroom was held in October of 2008.

Our new schoolyard habitat is in an ideal location, sheltered on three sides by our school building. Six garden boxes, one for each grade level, amphitheater type outdoor seating, and a podium were built by a local Boy Scout to complete his Eagle Scout Award. Arcado’s Outdoor Classroom includes Georgia native plants, bird and butterfly habitats, xeriscaping, composting, weather stations, renewable energy, a sensory garden, schoolyard geology, bird and bat boxes, water conservation, a special needs garden, and quiet reading areas that can also serve as inspiration for creative writing. We are currently researching the feasibility of adding vermicomposting and rain barrels.

This habitat allows our students to refine mapping skills by creating a bird’s eye view of the garden or by studying the migratory patterns of birds. They develop observation skills, collect and analyze data, and draw conclusions while observing the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. They create art from recycled items and learn from experiments and observations in the weather station. They also use complex measuring skills by studying the water needs of differing landscapes. Overall this classroom is a sustainable, living laboratory that can be used for many years to come.


Sustainability Initiatives:


In addition to recycling all the items mentioned above, each classroom also has blue recycling bins (purchased by the PTA Environmental Committee) for recycling scrap paper, aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Each Friday our Green Team collects and records the amount of our recyclables collected. Cell phones, computer cartridges, Blackberries and laptops are logged, packaged and sent to Cartridges for Kids. Bags of classroom paper are logged onto our “recycle-o-meter” and placed into newspaper bins. Six-pack rings are packaged and sent to the ITW Hi-Cone Ringleader Recycling Program. Eye-glasses go to the Lions Club Light House Program to be cleaned and donated to those in need. Aluminum can tab tops are weighed and taken to the Ronald McDonald House near Emory University where they are redeemed for cash at a local recycling facility.

To remind our students and teachers to turn out the lights when they leave the classrooms, light-bulb shaped “Lights Out” reminders have been made by our Green Team and are hung inside each doorway.

To draw awareness to air pollution we piloted the Anti-Idling program in 2007-08 and Arcado is now a Clean Air Campaign Clean Air School.

Arcado was awarded one of ten Weyerhaeuser Excellence in School Recycling Awards in 2007-08 and we used the award money to purchase Clearstream recycling bins to be used for collecting plastic bottles and aluminum cans during special events at our school.


Community Connections:


Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) of Georgia’s Outdoor Classroom Council –
free landscape design, garden boots, and $50.00 gift certificate to Home Depot
Lowes Corporation — $5000 Toolbox grant for Outdoor Classroom
Georgia Native Plant Society – plants
City of Lilburn Mayor Jack Bolton – plants and bulbs
Woods of Parkview Garden Club – plants
Lilburn Realty – bulbs
Greg’s Nursery – wheel barrow and seed packets
Home Depot of Tucker – plants and free delivery
Lowes of Lilburn – plants and free delivery
Ace Hardware – discounted bulbs, garden soil, and free delivery
Brunswick Zone Lilburn – prizes for recycling contest winners
Brusters Ice Cream – coupons for recycling contest winners
Blue Rooster Bakery and Cafe – free cookie coupons for aluminum recyclers
Eagle’s Landing Cajun Restaurant – gift certificates for teachers with 100% of their class bringing paper from home to be recycled at school
Arcado parents, students, faculty, and staff – many hours of volunteer time towards making our many environmental projects successful!


Awards/Recognitions:


*In 2008, we were recognized by Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful as a “Reaching Higher Green School,” which is the highest level of achievement recognized by GC&B.
*Winner of 2007-08 Weyerhaeuser Excellence in School Recycling Award
*winner of a $5000 Lowes Toolbox Grant for our Outdoor Classroom
* Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Award for Environmental Excellence (every year since 1996)
* Newspaper Recycling Contest – largest increase in newspaper recycling of any elementary school in Gwinnett County (2007)
* Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) of Georgia’s Ugliest School Yard Contest – Winner (2007)
*National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Habitat Certificate #95,206
*Certified Pollinator Garden for Monarchs Across Georgia
* Atlanta Journal Constitution – two “News for Kids” articles featuring the Green Team (2007). Also featured in the Gwinnett section of the AJC and Lilburn Living magazine.


EE Professional Organization Membership:


GA – Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) of Georgia


Ecoregion(s)


Piedmont (Ecoregion 45)


Riverbasin(s)


Ocmulgee River Basin

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at eeingeorgia.org

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