On Thursday, Feb. 2, EarthGen and Clark County Green Schools hosted the Winter Teacher Training at the West Park Community Room in downtown Vancouver. Teachers from all areas of education throughout Clark County, came together to learn how and why certification with EarthGen is valuable. The leaders of EarthGen provided guidance and advice in a collaborative environment filled with honest and open communication between school districts.
The Green Schools team was proud to see so many teachers in attendance who are creating a culture of environmental stewardship on their campus. It was very exciting to see a lot of new Green Team Leaders too!
The training began with an open dialogue about what values are most important within individual school communities. The leaders of EarthGen listened to the teachers' feedback and received great information to help their organization better understand the needs of our region. The presentation continued with an overview of the eight areas of certification: School Grounds & Gardens, Waste & Recycling, Water, Habitat Restoration, Transportation, Healthy School Buildings, Energy, and At-Home certification for online learners.
Next, there was a review of the six-step certification process, beginning with how to form a green team and ending with celebrating your certification. This section was expanded upon through a game organizing example certification steps into the proper order. This was challenging for teachers new to the process but was great at bringing attention to the different details of each step. EarthGen also conducted an activity with example certification report cards submitted throughout the years, showcasing applications lacking required information as well as outstanding proposals. Teachers were able to get an inside glimpse at what the EarthGen certification team looks for with assessment, impact verification, team involvement, and lasting change.
One of the most important aspects of certifying with EarthGen is projects must be student-led. Without the initiative of student engagement, it is hard to upkeep certification standards over the years. The teachers had an open discussion about how students respond to climate change science. There was a large range of answers, from overwhelmed and anxious to denial and betrayal of values. This was a great activity to explore methods for educating youth about such large and sometimes controversial adult topics.
EarthGen encourages Green Teams to break down the macro-scale problems into localized observations. The key to success is to focus on a smaller area of study, like any of the eight categories mentioned above. Whatever the personal beliefs of your student body, group observation and consensus are the healthiest methods to open dialogue about climate awareness and the interconnectedness of the biosphere. Act local, think global!
The training session ended with a social hour. Teachers were able to talk with each other, the EarthGen staff, Cameron Steinback, Laura Tyler, and Cameron Foy, as well as Bekah Martin, the WSU Clark County Extension School Garden Coordinator. There was an outdoor fireplace and food to enjoy learning, sharing, and networking amongst the education community.
Thank you to all teachers who volunteered their evening to attend the Winter Educator Training. And thank you, EarthGen Team, for traveling to meet our educators. There will be another teacher training in the Fall of 2023.
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