To Wetzel Road Elementary School Principal Brenda Zavaski, teaching her students how to be environmentally friendly simply makes sense.
"When I work with children, it's much more than textbook learning," Zavaski said. "It's teaching kids to be responsible, contributing citizens."
Last summer, Zavaski signed up Wetzel Road to be a part of the national Go Green Initiative, a free program that helps schools educate students about the environment as well as providing tips to make the school itself more "green." The program provides schools with training, resources and research to help schools create and implement environmentally-education curriculums. It touches on such aspects as recycling, energy and paper conservation and composting, among others.
Jill Buck, a public school parent in Northern California, created the Go Green Initiative six years ago. "I wrote the program on my kitchen table in May 2002. My kids were all in public schools in California. There were health hazards and other environmentally caused problems that were affecting their health," Buck said. She cited concerns, such as pesticides used in playgrounds and the high amount of waste generated by the school. "I really wanted to find a program that was already in place that I could take to my principal."
When after several weeks of research, she couldn't find a program, Buck, a former Naval officer with experience in recycling programs, decided to create her own. Buck's Go Green Initiative was pioneered in September 2002 at her children's school Walnut Grove Elementary in Pleasanton, Calif. Now, schools in all 50 states and 13 other countries use the non-profit program, which is funded entirely by individual and corporate sponsors.
"School budgets even during good budget years are very tight," Buck said. "There are all of these things that a school budget goes to. So the Go Green Initiative is free. Our resources and training are free."