In a world increasingly driven by organizations or initiatives with stylistic visual "packaging", but often lacking in substance, Earth Force rises above the fray with high quality youth programs with long-term impact. Beyond the logos and graphics, which Earth Force does well, one quickly realizes the organization is about the people and community. Earth Force representatives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina have always been there for us as a partner in a regional education consortium. Phone calls like "Can you help us spread the word about summer camp?" to "Can you help gather a youth group for storm drain marking", are always answered with "Yes, we'll be glad to support the effort!" There are no territory issues, no egos, just the work, a spirit of collaboration, and the community goals. In the field of environmental stewardship, it becomes evident that change begins at the community-level, and often youth are the ripples in the pond that impact their families and communities. Earth Force programs reinforce the community ideal and aim at developing a long-term relationship, not just an episodic event, with youth.
Earth Force has been instrumental in creating an environment for service learning for children through various programs across the United States. Students study the concept of what makes a community and how to assist communities in their needs. They explore their local area, connect to various constituencies, and identify several projects that seem essential to the health and welfare of their community. As a group, these children, with the help of the Earth Force process, democratically decide what project is the most necessary. At this juncture they become educated on the issue, why it is an issue, and the reason there is such a need in this area. After looking at the issue, they explore various ways of mitigating the problem and put together data that explains what needs to be done and how this can be accomplished. The outcomes have been profoundly wonderful: (1) one group found there were higher amounts of lead in the drinking water of a community with the highest amounts in the poorer areas. They came up with a solution that pleased their local city council and mayor and helped eliminate in part, the issue. (2) A group of teachers who went through this process so they in turn could do this in their classrooms found five projects for energy savings at a U.S. Forest facility, Land Between the Lakes - Brandon Spring in TN/KY. The outcome was they had made recommendations to install LED lighting in one large building, the costs of which would be amortized in the first year; savings of 92,000 gallons of water by the replacement of top load washers to front loaders - as well as energy for pumping the water from the well, hot water, etc.; a new energy efficient stove that has saved on air conditioning and energy lost in the industrial kitchen since the old Viking stove took half of a day to melt butter. Earth Force bridges the gap between learning and service, between purposeful problem solving and Core Content, between school and community, between parents and students. Their work also has been successful in motivating children to contribute to their communities and to become engaged in working hard to be the "best that they can be." Undoubtedly Earth Force, their staff, their programs are indicators of a passionate approach to making education purposeful not only for children, but in the context of community. I have seen their work first-handed, and the outcomes with children and adults have been profoundly exceptional and successful.
Earth Force commitments to helping young people understand and appreciate our watershed is invaluable. Earth Force clearly recognize that laying a foundation for well informed natural resource leaders of the future we have to work as partners with the youth in our community today. Earth Force is a model organization in youth engagement!
I am a 6th grade Science teacher in Arlington, VA. Earth Force has made me a stronger steward of my environment, and thereby has made my students better environmental stewards. Earth Force has provided me the tools and the motivation to get 6th grade students eager to participate in an environmental real-life project. Earth Force has helped my students participate in stream clean-ups, micro-invertebrate study at the Four Mile Run near my school, and water chemistry analysis.
The Caring for our Watershed contest is a wonderful opportunity to ignite my students' passion, curiosity and eagerness to think of solutions to help protect our watersheds. Earth Force has enabled my students to develop skills that will help them become life-long learners and advocates for the environment.
I am grateful that this wonderful organization is available to share their knowledge and their resources with students and our community.
I am a 6th Grade Science teacher at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA. Our Science students participate in a program with a community group called Earth Force that ties in with our state curriculum. Earth Force encourages students to evaluate the water quality in their local stream and create a Civic Action Project to help improve the overall health of the stream.
Every fall, my students take a trip to the Four Mile Run, the stream closest to our school. We work closely with Kurt Moser, Earth Force Director, to sample, test, and analyze water quality from the stream. We usually find that there are high amounts of Fecal Caliform Bacteria (F.C.B.) in the water. F.C.B. includes e Coli and is dangerous to human health. Kurt works with students and teachers to research causes of F.C.B. and current policies and practices relating to water quality.
After analyzing the data, students work in groups and create a Civic Action Project. Each project is designed to improve water quality in our local stream. The projects change each year because the students have different interests and strengths. Our students have built rain gardens, made formal presentations to the School and County Boards, taught younger students about what causes pollution in our streams, and have even created raps and videos that teach the importance of water quality.
We are so fortunate to work with Earth Force! We hope to continue this partnership for years to come.
6th Grade Science Teacher
Kenmore Middle School
Led by a group of creative innovators, Earth Force has supported students at George Washington Middle School (GWMS) located in Alexandria, VA in becoming active eco-citizens. My involvement with Earth Force began six years ago when I attended a training on using the Earth Force curriculum. Since first learning about the programs offered by Earth Force I have received consistent and positive support in implementing the programs that allow our students to solve real world problems in their community. The dedication of this non-profit has led to an improved community and an engaged youth that understand how to make positive change.
Earth Force has given our students the opportunities to showcase what they can do to make a difference and allows them to earn funds through the Caring for our Watershed Grant Competition. The past several years, our students at GWMS have earned nearly $4,000 toward making ecological improvement to their watershed. The student-led approach to the curriculum allows students to find and use their youth voice in a positive way. Additionally, partnerships that Earth Force maintains, allows our students to reach a global audience.
It is with their support and the teaching style I now use based on the Earth Force curriculum that I received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators in 2013 from the White House Council on Environment Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The essential elements that Earth Force provides allows students to become actively involved in solving environmental issues. They provide grant funding through the Caring for our Watershed Competition, designing curriculum geared to teaching students to solve global issues, and showcasing student work to a global audience. With the tools that Earth Force supplies, teachers are equipped to actively engage students in finding innovative solutions to improve their watershed.
As a participant in the Earth Force program for over 16 years, I can say with great confidence that Earth Force's Caring for Our Watershed program inspire students to take responsibility for their environment. My sixth graders learn that their opinions matter and that there are wonderful people who will assist them in their goal to solve a problem within their watershed.
Throughout the process, from identifying the problem to researching solutions and actually carrying out the solution, Earth Force supports the teachers and students. It may be through providing supplies and assistance when water testing or coming and listening to students verbalize their concerns and brainstorm ideas for solutions. Volunteers from the students area of interest come and help students' ideas become a concrete plan. The financial support makes it a reality.
My students are now stewards of their watershed because of Earth Force.
Earth Force is a wonderful organization that supports a great cause for the nation's most impressionable demographic - our youth. The organizational leaders and the individuals who support it through employment, board service, donations, and messaging merit high praise and appreciation. To develop an educational framework that promotes sustainability, accountability, and social/environmental responsibility is so impressive. The Earth Force process works and the message resonates. The next step is to expand the message and get more people involved through increased funding. Easy enough...
How do you spark interest in students and volunteers that lasts and makes them want to learn more, do more, help more, and become more engaged as citizens? Put simply, Earth Force.
Over the last decade, Earth Force has made serving and improving our community exciting, easy, and fulfilling. It sets itself apart by empowering youth voice and creating long-term solutions that make sense for our community. After the program, students have reflected with comments like “this project helped us show adults that kids our age can do more than just play video games,” and “now I want to pick up litter when I see it and help teach others why they should, too.”
Earth Force takes the guesswork and headache out of typical non-profit issues such as funding, media, and support so we can focus on connecting with youth and cultivating better business and community practices. We cannot say enough about this organization’s culture and professional, passionate team. Earth Force’s collaborative approach and program framework are an icon for non-profits and for the future of environmental education in North America.
When I joined the Board of Directors four years ago, the organization was in a serious point of charting a more defined, and clear path for ourselves. That time of pressure and decision-making has become a maiden for ingenuity, efficiency, and growth. Today, the organization stands at its greatest since I have joined the organization.