On February 27th, 2012, attendees of the Green Schools National Conference came to visit New Vista High School (NVHS) and the Earth Task Force (ETF) got a chance to show off in a good way. About 50 people from all over the nation participated in the tour. The ETF visit was part of a larger tour of Boulder Valley School District’s sustainability efforts, but the organizers of the tour specifically asked to visit the Earth Task Force!
The work ETF has done at NVHS is significant because the story of their building is the story of many schools across the country. The NVHS school building is old, inefficient, and an energy hog! There’s little money, lots of issues, an old boiler, but lots of enthusiasm. The tour of NVHS, designed and run by students in the ETF, highlighted changes schools can make without large-scale capital improvement. The tour consisted of 5 stations that highlighted the ETF’s fundraising and grassroots efforts: solar panels, low-flow toilets, the school
garden, vending machine misers, and the student-run compost.
At each station, ETF members talked about the projects and then took questions
from attendees. At the solar panel display, people on the tour furiously scribbled
down the names of various energy contests. At the garden station, tour members
read the colorful signs from about the space, by the compost they oohed and aahed! In between stations, ETF members leading the tours pointed out stickers on light switches around the school that say “Turn Me Off. How would you feel if someone turned you on and left?” As one attendee put it, “that might not go over so well at an elementary school.”
The Earth Task Force received lots of positive feedback about the tour attendees
at the larger conference in Denver called it “The highlight of the week.”
Written by Seth Blum, student reporter, edited by Paige Doughty.
The Earth Task Force (ETF) is a Cottonwood Institute-supported program at New Vista High School in Boulder, CO designed to give students an opportunity to take the lead to implement sustainability initiatives at their school.
Earth Task Force and Cottonwood Institute Present at National Green Schools Conference
The Earth Task Force (ETF), the environmental club at New Vista High School in Boulder, sponsored by the Cottonwood Institute (CI), took part in a whirlwind of events, workshops and speeches at the National Green Schools Conference in Denver February 27th-29th. A tremendous amount of environmental sustainability topics were covered throughout the conference including the Earth Task Force story and vision presented by our very own ETF members in a breakout workshop. They also listened to nationally-renowned keynote speakers, participated in a student summit, and heard stories of other like-minded organizations and schools; not to mention the talking robot named Mrfy, made out of recycled and reused materials!
On the first day, members of the ETF participated in a student summit; connecting students from around the country who are committed to addressing environmental issues within their schools and communities. Each ETF member went to a breakout session that covered different environmental sustainability topics. After having fantastic brainstorming meetings, all the groups at the student summit heard Alec Loorz, one of the leading young voices in the US on the issue of climate change, speak about the global issues that are happening due to climate change. He spoke eloquently about his own personal story of becoming a climate change activist at the age of 12.
On Tuesday, ETF members returned to Denver to partake in the many different breakout sessions and events. They listened to inspiring tales of positive social and environmental change from a great keynote speaker and had a delicious and eye-opening experience during lunch. The lunch, put on by the Boulder Valley School District’s Director of Food Services, Ann Cooper, showcased how unhealthy the average school lunch is; did you know pizza is considered a vegetable! After participating in more afternoon breakout sessions, ETF members went home to prepare for their big presentation.
On the final day of the conference ETF members, mentors, and the Cottonwood Institute Adventure Coordinator presented on CI’s successes at New Vista High School. All were nervous standing in their silly superhero costumes amidst the fancy digs of the Hyatt lobby, but the team gathered their supplies and took a collective deep breath. The presentation involved interactive activities to simulate the incredible experiences students and adults have during CI’s programs, as well as telling the story of success through the individual perspectives and experiences of those working with ETF and the Community Adventure Program (CAP), another CI sponsored class held at New Vista where students connect to the outdoors.
As the session wrapped up, the Green Schools Conference Team felt they had accomplished their goal of spreading CI’s vision and the ETF’s mission to others involved in environmental sustainability. The conference left attendees inspired and reinvigorated to continue to do what we do best: saving the planet in fun, creative ways!
Written by ETF intern, Aaron Fox
Edited by Paige Doughty, ETF mentor
Click here for a slideshow of the whirlwind of activities!