By Lange, Catherine
Social Studies Review , Vol. 48, No. 2
There are many young heroes who have made serious commitments to saving the environment. Driven by internal passions these Earth Angels, Enviropreneurs, and Green Kids are unstoppable in their relentless determination to make a difference in their communities, regions and in some cases, globally. Behind many of the Green Kids are teachers who have inspired grade 4-12 students to turn anxiousness about an uncertain future into understanding and finally to transfer knowledge into positive actions that can have small- or largescale results. But just how do kids begin to think about how they can join the global effort to save earth? How can teachers assist in promoting critical thinking skills that will increase civic literacy?
This article will show examples of young people between the ages of 7 and 18 that have in some way made an ecological difference who are referred to as Earth Angels (they are watchful of the earth), Enviropreneurs (those who raise money for environmental causes), and Green Kids (those who think of new ways to save resources, promote environmental education and innovative applications). The stories provide examples that can be read in class of committed young people with great ideas and inspiring comments, demonstrating that environmental stewardship is not just something an adult is concerned about. In fact, Evan, an eleven year old is quoted as saying "you don't have to be an adult to make a difference!" (see below) The stories are inspirational because most of the green kids saw a need, figured out a solution and took action. They were in tune with seeing what unique need existed within their communities, brain-stormed ideas for solutions to the problem, found creative ways to raise money and to increase public awareness and moved forward to achieve their goals with a strong determination. The article also provides classroom activities for teachers and resources that can be used to assist students in finding exciting topics that they can pursue as learning projects. It is meant to plant a seed in the minds of any future young people who feel the same as those that are part of the stories shown in this article or others that can be found in the links provided.
The testimonies below capture the personal gains that can also be part of the creative leadership experiences that resulted from these grass root endeavors.
Below are some of their amazing stories:
1 ) Kelydra, age 1 8 (West Virginia) has invented a method for removing a toxic and potential carcinogen that contaminated drinking water in her hometown. The water contained APFO, a chemical from the production of Teflon that is manufactured in a nearby DuPont factory. While the company and environmentalists argued over the long-term effects, Kelydra figured out a way to remove the chemical from the water. Her process takes 30 minutes and is 92% accurate and costs pennies. "Many people here are angry, hurt, and confused over the issue of APFO in their water," says Kelydra. "I'm in an excellent position to simplify the science and to help." She has published ajournai article about this project and has a patent for the process that began as a science fair project!
2) Evan, age 1 1 (California) has formed an organization called the Red Dragon Conservation Team that encourages children to become stewards of nature by raising money to purchase threatened rainforest and coral reef habitat in Costa Rica. Evan's group asks classmates, neighbors and businesses to sponsor a yearly bowling team and so far has saved sixteen acres since he began at the age of seven! Says Evan, "you don't have to be an adult to make a difference." (www.rdct.org)
3) Emily, age 18 (Washington) designed a renewable energy system that has replaced a gasoline fueled system for a global warming research center in Juneau, Alaska. Emily's system runs on wind and solar energy and will save the center more than 300,000 gallons of gasoline and $4,000 in energy costs. …