Originally published in the February 2019 issue of the Cherrywood Flea.
Maplewood’s Green Team of students, parents, and staff are working toward recognition as a Green Flag Eco-School. Sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, Eco-Schools USA is a program that aims to empower students to be future environmental leaders.
The Green Team is led by librarian and campus innovation coach Amanda Braziel and parents Sara Montoya and Dianne Folkerth. It has grown from twenty students when it was formed in 2015 to seventy-five today, and includes kids in monthly activities to improve the sustainability of school grounds, facilities, and community- building activities.
“Initially our students were very concerned about the amount of waste generated in the cafeteria at breakfast and lunch every day,” Braziel says. “We also noticed that many classrooms and the cafeteria lacked recycling bins. That led me to apply for a Bright Green Future grant and to lead students in a campus waste audit.”
The Green Team reached Bronze-level certification in recognition of their work on waste and transportation. The team hopes to achieve Silver certification in this academic year by improving wildlife habitat, increasing biodiversity on campus, and continuing to reduce energy and water consumption. The Maplewood PTA secured two recent grants from the CoA to help the school achieve this goal: a second Bright Green Future grant to expand the courtyard pollinator garden and an Urban Forest Grant to plant more trees around the campus. Students will plant pollinator-friendly plants and will be responsible for watering the new trees until irrigation is installed in the spring.
Folkerth says, “Being ‘green’ and good stewards of the environment is something that’s important to our community, and that translates to our school community. We have some passionate kids at Maplewood who are motivated to enact school-wide changes. For example, they take turns helping classmates sort recycling and compost at lunch so that it becomes habit for everyone.
“We owe so much to Amanda Braziel for making this idea into the wildly popular club that it is today. She recruited a team of teachers and volunteer parents who’ll keep Green Team going, and she helped create a generation of young environmental stewards for our city. That’s huge! We are also grateful to the administration at Maplewood, which has been very supportive of our efforts throughout the years.”
For Cherrywooders interested in environmental stewardship, volunteer with us at Maplewood. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Green Team logo designs by Mr. Castañon’s 2nd grade class in 2018.