Green education to guide Truckee/Tahoe’s next generation of environmental stewards
Journey. The word suggests far more than a simple move from one place to another. It’s not just about reaching a destination … it’s about appreciating and profiting from all the experiences along the way. Truckee Elementary is embarking on a journey, one that will embody the very essence of the word.
Truckee Elementary is Going Green. Designated as the flagship school to lead the greening of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD), the students and staff of Truckee Elementary will be pioneering a path toward an environmentally sustainable future for the entire district.
Environmental education at Taylor Creek
Over the next few years, Truckee Elementary will undergo a green transformation: in the building, in the classrooms, and ultimately, in the minds and hearts of its students. School operations will employ sensible, sustainable practices to reduce carbon footprint and waste. The teaching staff will inject environmental science and responsibility into educational programs.
Today’s students will become tomorrow’s catalysts of change, equipped with the tools to both steward Tahoe/Truckee’s most valuable resources and enrich their own futures, wherever they may lead.
Right on the heels of Truckee Elementary’s big show at Earth Day came our annual Open House,held on April 26. As in past years, this event gave parents the opportunity to see first-hand what our kids have been up to at school, with a tour of the classrooms, guided by the students themselves.
But this year’s Open House was truly a special evening, as we celebrated our Going Green initiative, co-funded by the Shane McConkey Foundation and the Truckee Elementary PTO. Open House provided the perfect venue for the official unveiling of our beautiful, green-oriented lobby mural, complete with artistic contributions from every student at TES! Local artist and lobby muralist Sara Smith (www.saralsmith.com) was in attendance to provide perspective and answer questions. For weeks, Sara’s been not only the artist-in-residence, she’s been a teacher-in-residence, engaging and guiding children with their own works of art. We’ll miss Sara!
This year we added to the green-themed fun with a major new event: Family Science Night. Our partner in environmental education, SWEP (Sierra Watershed Educational Programs) was on-hand with parent and teacher volunteers, as well as our own student-staffed Green Team to run several science “exploration stations” in the cafeteria. Parents and students alike shared in the fun … and learning.
Big thanks go out to SWEP, the Envirolution Club, the Green Team, and all the parent and teacher volunteers who helped us out … we couldn’t put on events like this without you! It was certainly worth it … check out the sights from Truckee El’s Open House 2012 here:
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Truckee Elementary! On Saturday, April 21, the school participated in the Tahoe Truckee Earth Day celebration at Squaw Valley. Our school was represented both by Mrs. Robb’s fourth grade class, tranforming discarded plastic bottles into floral works of art, and the PTO, on hand to promote our Going Green mission and assist in SWEP’s ”Do One Thing” activities for kids.
Mrs. Robb has been taking her classes to Earth Day for several years now. And every year, her booth turns into a bustling art studio, with visiting kids creating amazing flowers from old soda and water bottles. Meanwhile, our PTO booth coordinated with SWEP in getting kids to put down their own, green resolutions on (recycled) paper handprints. Each child’s “Do One Thing” (D.O.T.) commitments to reduce his or her own environmental footprint adorned our D.O.T. tree, on display at the event (and now at home in the Truckee El lobby). And last but certainly not least, a few lucky Truckee El students participated on center stage in this year’s performance of Truckee High Envirolution Club’s popular Trashion fashion show.
A big thank you to all those who helped make Truckee El’s Earth Day a memorable event: Erin Robb, Katie Flynn, Amy Easterbrook, Amber Pierce, Jerusha Hall, Mekaela Lamperti, Nancy Herrera and Jen Cross. You can check out all the sights from Truckee El’s Earth Day action here …
If you’ll be attending Earth Day at Squaw on April 21 (11 to 5), be sure to stop by Truckee Elementary’s two booths. Both will be situated in the children’s area near the tram building and right next to the bungy jump and our partners at SWEP.
We’ll be talking about our Going Green initiative, and kids visiting the booth will be decorating our new D.O.T. (Do One Thing) tree, built from 100% recyclable material. Children can create their own leaf to add to the D.O.T. tree, inscribed with their own resolutions to “Do One Thing” in support of conservation and sustainability. To show how it’s done, the Green Team put this instructional video together. Check it out!
Starting Monday, the 23rd, look for the tree to find a more permanent home in the Truckee El lobby!
If you’ve been through the Trucee Elementary lobby recently, you’ve seen first-hand the amazing progress in our school-wide art project, the new green-themed lobby mural. It’s nearing completion, and it’s more impressive than we’d ever imagined. Muralist Sara Smith has done an incredible job, with support not only from school parents but our student body as well. Every student (over 600!) has created a piece of art - fish, bird or bug - that has been integrated into the mural. Truckee Elementary’s students’ work will be gracing the halls of the school for years to come! Here’s a look at the mural, both in production and completion … be sure to check out the details contributed by the kids!
And if you haven’t had a chance to see it first hand, you will soon. On Thursday, April 26, all are welcome to Truckee Elementary’s Open House from 5-7 PM, where we’ll officially be introducing the mural to the public as part of the celebration of our Going Green initiative, co-funded by the Shane McConkey Foundation and the Truckee Elementary PTO. To recognize this new mission, Open House will provide the venue not only for the mural but also a special event to commemorate all the progress of our Going Green initiative: a Family Science Night. Our partner in environmental education, SWEP (Sierra Watershed Educational Programs) will be on hand with our own student-staffed Green Team to run several science “exploration stations” in the lobby. Parents and students alike can share in the fun … and learning.
In addition, we’ll also be unveiling at Open House our new D.O.T. (Do One Thing) tree, built from 100% recyclable material and adorned with leaves created by Truckee El students. Each student will inscribe on the leaf his or her own personal green resolution, to Do One Thing to help preserve our environment. TES wants to send a big shout-out to TES parent Tallie Goebel, who volunteered her time and skils to create the iron framework of what has now become a true piece of art. And thanks also go out to local businesses Mountain Forge (studio) and Mountain Hardware (supplies) for supporting the effort.
This has been an amazing year for the school, as thanks to the generosity of the Shane McConkey Foundation and our own PTO (combining for about $30,000 in grants), the school, its staff and students, are not only blazing a sustainability trail for the district, they are benefiting in the form of environmental awareness and education.
I personally would like to extend a special thanks to several key contributors to this endeavor:
To Sherry McConkey and the Shane McConkey Foundation. I didn’t know Shane personally, but I can’t imagine a better legacy for anyone to leave than pursuing the betterment of our environment and the next generation of its stewards.
To the Truckee Elementary PTO, for stepping up to match SMF’s funds, making a powerful statement of support while giving this mission the means to accomplish more than would have otherwise been possible.
To Anna Klovstad (TTUSD), Missy Mohler (SWEP) and Jamie Simon (Canopy Strategies), our core team of planners, implementers and champions, who have done everything possible to get our green journey underway.
To Valerie Simpson and the TTUSD staff, for recognizing the value of this mission and embracing it, despite the additional work it’s meant (and will continue to mean) above and beyond the demands of the existing responsiblities and curriculum.
Check out the Sierra Sun coverage here. And if you’ll be attending Earth Day at Squaw on April 21, be sure to stop by Truckee Elementary’s booths. We should be situated right next to our partners at SWEP, hosts to the event’s most popular attraction, the Trashion show!
Do One Thing. When it comes to tackling a daunting, complex problem, sometimes the most effective way to get the ball rolling is simply to Do One Thing. Not sure where you can start making an individual impact on conservation and sustainability? Well, then just pick one thing… and do it.
It’s a concept as potent as it is simple, one big reason it’s become a Green Team mantra at Truckee El. Take shorter showers, use refillable water bottles, create a zero-waste lunch … it can be just about anything. Defining a personal “Do One Thing” is not only educational, it’s empowering. And it just so happens that the Truckee-Tahoe region’s biggest Earth Day event – Squaw Valley’s Earth Day event on Saturday, April 21 - has adopted the same message for its theme this year.
In that spirit, and to encourage our students to personalize the Going Green mission, the entire school is taking the lead from the Green Team. Every child is defining and practicing his or her own D.O.T., sharing it not only with classmates but their families and the community. Check out the students of Mrs. Duner’s 1st grade class reciting their D.O.T.s …
In preparation for Earth Day, we’ll be using waste material to create a “Do One Thing” tree, one whose branches will be adorned with leaves bearing the D.O.T. of every TES student. Look for our D.O.T. tree to grow in the TES lobby and be put on display at Truckee Elementary’s Earth Day booth at Squaw on the 21st. Save the date, come visit us, and see how our kids have been living and learning sustainability practices!
The Green Team’s been hard at work brainstorming and implementing ways to reduce our cafeteria’s environmental footprint. In February, the team performed a 3-day calibration of the school’s compostable and recyclable waste stream, along with that portion destined for the landfill. The purpose was to establish a baseline for our current consumption, before setting the stage for a series of improvements in process and equipment designed to reduce the overall waste stream and bring landfill garbage down to an absolute minimum.
Those improvements initially focused on educating and mentoring students on how to best separate recyclables from compostables and landfill garbage. Lessons are now progressing further to educate students on how to pack a “zero-waste” lunch at home to avoid producing any recycle or landfill stream at all.
And for those buying lunch at school? Well, the first big job to tackle was eliminating one big source of landfill waste: our throw-away paper lunch trays. As planned, on March 7, the Truckee El cafeteria saw its first use of reusable, plastic trays, with Missy Mohler of SWEP and the Green Team on hand to smooth the transition. Eliminating the old paper trays should take a big bite out of the waste destined for Truckee’s landfill … we’ll know just how much when the Green Team performs subsequent waste stream audits. More updates coming … our green journey is underway!
The first phase of the creation kicked off over Ski/Skate week, thanks to Sara, a host of parent and student volunteers, and donated time and materials from generous community businesses like Easterbrook Painting, Contract Painting and Scott Edmondson Painting.
The best part? Once complete, all students in Truckee Elementary will have made an artistic contribution that reflects what the notion of environmental responsibility means to them. Read on for more on the what, how and why of our school’s exciting new look.
On February 16, the Truckee Elementary Green Team, in conjunction with their partners and mentors at the Envirolution Club hosted a Trash-ion Fashion show for Truckee Elemetnary students and staff. Delivered with strong educational messages for kids about conservation and sustainability, the Envirolution Club showed off an amazing array of clothing created exclusively from recyclables and trash.
Truckee Elementary’s Green Team has just completed its first audit of the cafeteria’s waste stream. The team performed three lunchtime reviews, where members sorted recyclables, compostables and garbage, and then weighed each component. Results were averaged to gain a valid starting baseline, from which we will be able to measure progress as we institute changes in the cafeteria.