In February, I heard about CEI for the first time. This is an international group bringing teachers and students together to work on the environment and then share their experiences. I brought the opportunity to our admin and soon we had a group of students interested in joining the club. As word of our work spread, more students have asked to be involved. Just this week, three of this year’s juniors asked me if it was too late to join for next year! It has been fun and surprising to see the enthusiasm spread.
So what is this club? Well, it is an international group and I am just beginning to get to know it. But, what I understand so far is that we all have projects in our countries (or delegations) based on the year’s theme, and then we share those during a conference in July. The theme this year is sustainable communities. In addition to thinking about, planning, and implementing a new project around the theme, we were also asked to learn about how our community already engages in sustainable activities.
With this in mind, one of our students told us about a Youth Farm she had seen on a drive. We looked into it further, made contact, and were able to tour and learn about the Youth Farm. This facility is incredible! The food harvested is given to families facing food insecurity and health needs. There is so much to write about with the Youth Farm, but instead I’ll let you check out their website 🙂 The picture above shows starts the Youth Farm was preparing to send to local community gardens.
Another part of our work included reaching out to a local elementary school and helping with their garden. We spent an afternoon with little ones digging, planting, watering, and pulling weeds. It was so fun and rewarding. My students (all freshmen this year) asked if we could make this a regular event! It also inspired them to take over care of our outdoor learning environment on our campus.
On campus, we have spruced up our OLE, the AP Biology students created a pollinator garden that CEI will take care of during the summer, and we built and installed a huge raised bed. The food we harvest from the OLE and raised bed will be shared with our community. We are also in the process of taking out a portion of concrete from the parking lot and replacing it with a tree. We are hopeful if our tree planting is successful, we will be able to replace more concrete in the future years.
Why am I sharing this? Well, one reason is I am impressed with these students! They are all freshmen, have never been involved in or even heard of this club, and have kept up the enthusiasm and dedication! I also share because I see the value in these experiences for the teacher as well as the students. CEI is open to pretty much anyone (though registration for this year’s conference is closed, you can still get involved and plan for next year). I was hesitant and had no idea what to expect, but I am so glad I offered this opportunity and students responded. This is just the beginning!