Earth Corps Inspires, Mentors Kids
Earth Corps, a new YMCA program expanding across the nation, is allowing high school students the opportunity to take charge and promote environmental issues and actions.
Created in Seattle, Wash., the original program quickly grew from 270 participating students to more than 1,500 students from 43 different schools. Earth Corps programs are now under way in Ohio, New York, Colorado and Oregon.
“It’s a leadership program based on environmental education and action,” said Nan Little, director of Earth Corps and founder of the first group in Seattle. “It’s fascinating to see young people take leadership roles in tackling environmental issues.”
The program operates on two levels — major community projects are coordinated through local YMCAs while other efforts are conducted in individual schools by smaller groups of Earth Corps students.
On Earth Day, the Seattle Earth Corps planted 15,000 trees, Little said. The group also has undertaken a stenciling project to warn people against dumping fish-killing wastes down storm drains. Messages stating, “Dump no waste; drains to stream,” have been spray painted near more than 1,000 storm drain grates.
The program has been officially adopted by YMCA U.S.A. and is being publicized through its network, Little said. Earth Corps groups also have been started in Hong Kong and Singapore, and still more are being considered in other Asian and South American countries.
Earth Corps involves groups of teachers and students working together, coordinated by the YMCA, and supported by businesses, government, colleges and universities. The program can be molded to the students’ own desires and goals. It is geared to develop leadership skills, encourage students to examine all sides of environmental issues and advance education through action.
“Earth Corps has done many things for our YMCA,” said Jennifer Parker, executive director of the Metrocenter YMCA in Seattle. “It has revitalized our outreach to high school youths and has brought us into new partnerships with community leaders, corporations and government agencies.”
International studies and exchanges also are encouraged in Earth Corps. A Seattle group hosted a weekend conference and retreat with students from Thailand, Japan, India and Canada. Another group of 16 students recently took a trip to Asia to meet with foreign students, Little said, where they were instrumental in establishing the Singapore and Hong Kong groups.
“We have moved quickly from a concept on paper to a vital, exciting program,” she said. “We’re expecting big things in the future.”
For more information write: Earth Corps, Program Information,
909 4th Ave., Seattle, WA 98104. Or call (206) 382-5013.