3 Tips on Making Your Eco-Education Successful
Let’s face it. Saving our local waterways may not be top of mind for your average 3rd or 5th grader. So how do we keep them interested and engaged in helping to protect water quality?
It has to hit a cord. It has to be interactive. It has to be visual. And most importantly, it has to be actionable so students feel empowered to do something about it.
It’s a simple model that S. Groner Associates (SGA) has been applying for the past 15 years in partnership with the Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education (MFEE) and achieved great results.
School presentations focused on protecting water quality gets youngsters started early in developing positive habits. If old habits die hard and those habits help our environment, long live those habits, we say!
TIP 1: SHOW STUDENTS WHAT THEY LOVE
The presentation starts by showing students things they love such as animals, the beach and kids playing in pools. The audience is instantly hooked. Who doesn’t love to have fun with friends around water?
TIP 2: SHOW STUDENTS HOW WHAT THEY LOVE IS BEING DAMAGED
Students quickly learn that the things they love are being harmed. Not only are the things they love being damaged, but they are also being damaged because of human actions. They learn that the pollution we inflict in our daily lives ends up in the ocean or other waterways through the storm water drain and this, in turn, affects animal life and their well-being.
We show sea life caught in six-pack plastic rings struggling to disentangle themselves – these are rings that were littered and washed away through the storm drain and into the ocean. We see sea life creatures trying to consume floating plastic bags because the bags look similar to the food they eat.
TIP 3: LET STUDENTS KNOW THEY CAN TAKE ACTION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Amid the depressing news, however, students’ eyes light up when we tell them know that every one of them in the room can do something about it. We end with a concrete call to action – pick up your trash, recycle and don’t use disposable cups or containers, to name a few.
Along with participating in the presentation, students are encouraged to organize cleanups. Over the past three years, this program was implemented across three of the largest counties in California and educated over 25,000 students across 73 schools. And at least three of the schools conducted clean-ups on campus, at which 501 students collected approximately 63 pounds of trash. We are confident that these students who have developed such eco-habits will likely carry them into adulthood.
Namju Cho is a project manager for S. Groner Associates Inc, a Public Relations and Communications firm specializng in social marketing, media relations, online outreach and social media as it relates to issues facing communities and the environment. Cho can be reached at 562.597.0205 or [email protected].