Empowering high school students to create a Solar Garden
Ever since she first volunteered at Tiburon, CA’s Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary as a Teacher Naturalist, Emily Sprowls has seen the astounding results for students when education and action-oriented conservation operate in unison. This was made even more clear to her as an Agroforestry Extenionist for the Peace Corps Panama, Environmental Educator for the Urban Resources Initiative (among other environment-based teaching positions), and finally in her roles as science teacher and sophomore advisor at Bloomington’s Harmony School, an educational institute where approximately 80% of the students receive some form of tuition assistance.
Emily envisions her TogetherGreen fellowship project as an amplification of the action-learning paradigm she’s so long embraced. She will assist high school students in creating a Solar Garden composed of native habitat landscaping and solar panels. Emily was inspired when current senior students generated this idea as a way to demonstrate the combined values of alternative energy sources and ecosystem restoration, and plans to enable the students to take the lead of the implementation of the garden.
The project will be developed using two conservation-themed high school courses focused on providing students with opportunities to gain necessary knowledge and skills: one will explore the theme of energy conservation, the other habitat conservation, with both engaging students in structured conversations about conservation with professionals in various fields related to energy use and landscape management.
Starting with the core group of students (and their families, as they evaluate their home habitats and energy usage), the project will expand to include the entire student body, school staff, and families (approximately 400 people in all), as they work together to improve the schoolyard habitat, enhance energy efficiency of the building, and create the solar installation.
Ultimately, the full Harmony community will be asked to participate in environmental action projects. “This fellowship will help me connect my classroom leadership with authentic environmental change and the broader conservation movement,” Emily added.