VOYAGERS - April 2019

The Voyagers spent April 15th through the 19th focused on Earth Week. As an Oregon Green School and also an Eco-School through the National Wildlife Federation,  we are encouraged to pinpoint our challenges and then come together to look for and act on solutions

On Our First Day, our challenge was to inspect a week’s worth of lunch refuse and see what could have been composted, reused, or recycled. Our students have been practicing putting items in the appropriate bins, and although we were not 100%, the students have shown diligent interest in separating their lunch debris while also choosing no waste containers from home. Do you know that our school rarely fills one garbage bag per week for lunch garbage?

On Our Second Day, Katie Miesle challenged the students to work in teams to trim cuttings from our native plant wall in the garden to replant into the thin areas of our playground forest to help reduce erosion. The Voyagers quickly teamed up to trim Red Osier Dogwood and Willows to replant. They have already learned and practiced this skill, so the time was spent doing, instead of being instructed. We also had a class with Food Roots to talk about why our garden is important to us. The students made posters to help decorate Rachel’s display at the NVS Earth Day Run. Did you know that in the past four years that our playground forest has fresh regrowth of native plants and that the students are in charge of grooming the paths, and helping friends stay on the path?

On Our Third Day, we were set off outdoors to find any non-organic object and remove it from the school grounds. This year has been the least that I have seen picked up since I have been working here. Students found the regular batch of lost balls in the side creeks and wrappers blown from cars and lunches. Afterward, we spent time indoors looking at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to see the effects of microplastics on ocean animals. We learned about Rachel Carson and how she inspired Senator Gaylord Nelson to create the first Earth Day in 1970. Her article about Robins dying after eating insects that were poisoned sparked the reform we have today. We were challenged to look for ways we can change our property locally, speak up, and then make the change. 

During our Oregon Green School Summit, the students networked together to talk about the challenges at their school. Our students found a challenge with the Compost Bin of finding stickers from fruit. It was suggested by another school to create a poster to hang up so students could attach the fruit sticker before tossing the remains into the compost bin. We spent time on the third day creating the poster which is now in the lunchroom. Did you know that if you compost oranges that they are not friendly to worm bins? We were challenged to cut them into small pieces to break down more quickly and do not mix them into our worm bins.

On Our Fourth Day, we met with the Nestucca Watershed Council to review the description of a  Watershed. We then set to work pushing dibbles into the dirt to transplant Sedge so that the roots may be grown long before being transplanted in the Nestucca Watershed. Since the Voyagers are now pros at this activity it went quite quickly!  Did you know that we have Slough Sedge and Small Fruited Bulrush in our wetlands to the west of our garden to help stabilize what students call “The Bog” or “Salamander Palace”?

On Our Fifth Day, we finished up our project for Recycled Art Day. Our class looked through discarded magazines, pulled out pages, and cut out colors. We made up trays of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple. From this, we had help from Teacher Kyla to create a large flat world map. Teacher Nicole helped me hang our pieces on the board and helped create our slogan "Nurturing the Earth with Our Hands". Each student chose a color and helped with that section of the poster. Students learned that we are never out our colored paper with our donated stash of used magazines. As we finished our poster, two Ukulele students played This is Our School written by George Thompson while we sang and finished up our projects from the week. Did you know that we encourage Finishing Time where students schedule an hour to create a second or final draft of a project from the week?

As the Sustainability Captain for the Neskowin Valley School Green Team, I can say with joy that our school is on the leading edge of implementing solutions to our challenges. Our Administration and School Board gives us quick permission to implement change and often seeks out grants for funding if necessary. Our students are well aware that we are stewards of the precious legacy and gift that is our property, and also stewards of our earth. Did you know that Earth Day is April 22? What personal challenge will you try to solve?

~ Teacher Angie


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