Shortly after launching Greenily last year I thought it might be a good idea to reach out to a local “green” organization called Bethesda Green. I thought they might be interested to hear about the blog and talk about ways we could work together.
(Just a little background about Bethesda Green will give you a hint about why I thought we may be a good match. Their mission includes supporting sustainable businesses, educating the community about sustainability and helping to implement solutions that will make our community more sustainable. Perfect!)
I had been to a few of their community meetings so I had a contact to get in touch with. I was pleased to hear that, yes, they really liked the blog and wanted to talk about how it might fit in with their mission. At our meeting, I was (again) pleased to hear that they wanted to include one Greenily post each month in their electronic newsletter. Wow!!
And, as a bonus, I was asked if I would like to serve as one of the mentors to their Leadership Academy interns. The Leadership Academy focuses on environmental stewardship through projects and community engagement. During the internship, students work alongside the Bethesda Green staff, learn about starting a business from Bethesda Green’s incubator companies and are tasked with developing, from start to finish, one significant project.
The Leadership Academy
This project is where I came in and, I have to admit, is something that stumped me a little. Of course I’d love the opportunity to help shape young minds and guide them toward embracing the importance of how precious our world is, how we should all do our part to protect it and how with just a little effort it was all possible!!! But, I think I was told these were high school students which meant…dun, dun, duuuuuun…teenagers?! 😮 I was having enough trouble at home barely managing my tweens let alone providing them with guidance and feedback on how to save the world. 🙂 Would I be able to connect with them??!
Well, of course, I said yes – and am so glad I did! I can’t wait until my two girls (and boy) are teenagers now! (Okay, I can wait!) These girls (left and middle in picture above) – both from local area high schools – Walt Whitman and Bethesda-Chevy Chase – were outstanding and a pleasure to work with from start to finish!
They had already been on board as interns when I met them and were ready to start talking about their project. Our initial meetings, which took place about once a month, were mostly brainstorming and chatting about what types of topics they were interested in and what they were really passionate about. Now, I have to stop here and just say that when I was 17 and 18 and in my last semester of high school (as these girls are) I was not passionate about anything of significance. I was still pretty immature and self-centered and not thinking about bigger picture issues. I was likely passionate about my friends, my clothes and lots of other trivial things – okay maybe boys too! 🙂
In any event, the girls had great project ideas that ranged from planting rain gardens to help storm water runoff to planting vegetable gardens that could feed the homeless and beyond. They had clearly given the project some serious thought and had really mature and impactful ideas. They were open to comments and questions about their ideas throughout the process and were extremely respectful – even when I made goofy jokes (which probably happened more than I realize)!
Green Week Comes to Whitman and B-CC!
In the end the project they decided on was not just one event or single activity but an entire week focused on community outreach and raising awareness about a variety of environmental issues! Their plan was to highlight one topic each day of Earth Week at both schools including paperless classrooms, food waste awareness, guest lunch lectures, a park clean-up and an environmental documentary viewing. Here is their impressive, awareness-packed schedule:
In addition to all of the planning and coordination needed to pull this off at two high schools, the plan also included outreach and marketing via social media (how else do kids communicate these days?!) and good old posters and flyers around their schools.
So, Green Week begins Monday, April 18 and I know it will be a great success. Both girls worked hard on the project and demonstrated maturity, intelligence and professionalism – not to mention, being super sweet! I thoroughly enjoyed working with them both and wish them the best of luck as they head off to college in the fall. I know they’ll do amazing!