Just last week, I visited Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Hyattsville, Maryland for their Career Day. This time, I was assigned to speak at three separate classes—3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. During my presentations, I discussed the Agency’s mission, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and different types of jobs at EPA. In order to keep them engaged, I quizzed them on a variety of environmental issues. I was very interested in finding out what they thought about how best to protect the environment. I was very pleased to see that the kids have definitely mastered the concept of the three R’s “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.” Whenever I asked them about what they could do to help, “picking up trash and recycling” were the first issues highlighted in each of the classes. They also mentioned other useful green tips such as saving water, saving energy, and riding a bike instead of driving a car, to name a few.
At the school, they were incorporating many green habits into practice. One of the classes had even planted their own garden. The teacher mentioned that there were a group of students that lived nearby and regularly took care of it. I was able to see how the children talked about the garden with pride.
It was very inspiring to see that these children have internalized many of the values necessary to protect the planet. Children can be great teachers. In fact, we can learn a lot from them only if we truly listen. That reminds me of a song I heard recently on one of my daughter’s CD. It’s entitled “Wake up, America.” would like to share the chorus:
“Wake up, America. We’re all
In this together
It’s our home
So let’s take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got
To wake up America
Becomes a new day
And everything you do
Everything you do
In some way”
So, let’s listen to these teachers, TODAY!
If you want to see some key examples of young students who have taken environmental stewardship to the next level, I would recommend you see the projects presented by the winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Awards. For more information on sponsoring a young person or group, visit our website.
About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.