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.
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
Earth Force is an amazing organization with a mission that really hits home, I myself being a teenager. I am currently in Earth Force's pilot program "Friends of the Force," which trains Earth Force's perspective youth board members and I have to say that I really admire everything Earth Force has done. The people I have met through Earth Force, have really opened my eyes and helped me better voice my already existing opinions. All the people I have met are such strong, passionate, easygoing individuals, I find myself aspiring to be like them. Through Earth Force I have access to another side of Environmental Education and Youth Leadership. Earth Force is a truly amazing organization.
I've been working as a youth member of Earth Force for about three months now, and it's been a phenomenal experience. They've provided me with personal guidance to pursue my passions in environmental activism, and allowed me to exceed what I thought was my fullest potential. We've faced an uphill battle at my high school in attempting to rebuild our recycling program from the ground up, but Earth Force is making it possible. I'm proud to work with them, and even more proud of the work I've done with them.
Earth Force, Inc. came to our Department's "Take Your Kid to Work" day. The activity was great! The kids were engaged and did not get bored. They learned about teamwork, idea sharing and the environmental impacts of population on our water supply at the same time. The parents assisting with the exercise also enjoyed the activity. We are definitely hoping they will come back next year. Thank you Earth Force!
Serving a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Earth Force proved to be an extremely rewarding experience for me. So much so that when the opportunity presented its self to serve an additional year I welcomed it. The Earth Force six step service learning process is a great way to engage the youth of a community to address issues they might see every day but don’t feel empowered enough to take action. Unlike more traditional service projects in which students are assigned a task the Earth Force processes gives the students a say in choosing the issue, researching it, and designing the project. In this way they become much more engaged and energized in what they are hoping to accomplish. Earth Force is a Truly Great Non-profit.
I am a firm believer that the future depends on the success of organizations like Earth Force. Our community is lucky to have people that not only care about the world we leave for upcoming generations but give them the tools to make a sustainable difference themselves as well. I've volunteered and worked with the members of Earth Force in the Charleston Lowcountry for the last five years and could not be more grateful to them for teaching me and others the value of the planet we call home.
Earth Force has supported me in my efforts in teaching service learning projects about the environment for several years. If I need something, all I have to do is ask and they will get it for me. Whether it be funding for a purchase, help with a delivery, an expert speaker, help with writing a grant, Earth Force is watching my back. I couldn't do service learning with all of my classes without their help.
I was part of the Youth Action Board in high school and really felt empowered that I could help make Charleston a more environmentally friendly place. I had many wonderful experiences with Lowcountry Earth Force and therefore, got my friends to join in. We worked on community murals for a Downtown park renovation, my high school's Ecology Club wrote and received a grant for our end of the year community service kayaking project and I learned about the way non-profit organizations operate. Volunteering with Lowcountry Earth Force has motivated me to want to go into environmental education to continue doing the work that they do for our community.