Inspired by a workshop on the importance of wetlands, two middle-school students realized it was time that they translated their passion for the environment into action. Wetlands play a crucial role in flood control, water purification, and animal habitat maintenance; the students decided the best way to tackle such a complex issue was to prepare a series of activities designed to strengthen and rebuild local natural resources. They began with an educational program.
They wanted to create a program that would appeal to community members of all ages, but focused on reaching young children, making them aware of environmental issues at an early age. The students worked with their park district to secure a location for their event and to publicize it. The youths also advertised on their own, writing a press release, designing posters, and sending invitations to community leaders, organizations, and daycare centers.
The students researched available funding opportunities, wrote and received a grant, and contacted area businesses for discounts on supplies. With this money, they created a working model of a wetland for their presentation. They prepared a brief speech to accompany their demonstration, being careful to use words their young audience would understand.
The students also purchased wooden birdhouses and small nature-themed toys, such as insect finger puppets. Program attendees could decorate a birdhouse or participate in a quiz to win a toy. Everyone in the audience left the event with a fun and tangible reminder of the environment.
The students surveyed attendees after the event, and are already moving forward with their next related project: a community effort to transform an acre-and-a-half of old golf course into a wetland.
Submitted by Clay, a student at West Geauga Middle School, Chesterland, Ohio.