I work on the side at a local nature center, which is so much fun and such a great way to expand my abilities to teach environmental ed in the classroom. Recently I was asked to help lead a new effort for the nature center to become a Roots & Shoots service learning site. Roots & Shoots is an outreach organization created by Jane Goodall (one of my personal heroes) that encourages schools and community groups to do environmental service projects. Basically any project that helps the environment, wildlife or the human community will count as a service project, everything from clearing invasive species to building a butterfly garden or picking up trash. The nature center is a really easy place to set this up, since we have schools, Scouts and community groups coming to the nature center for earth-related service projects all the time. Now all we have to do is let them know that we are officially a Roots & Shoots service learning site!
I was thinking, though, that I could easily do Roots & Shoots service projects in my classroom as well! Why not? I've always wanted to do a large service project with my students as part of the science or social studies curriculum, and this could be an authentic way to carry one out. I could start by teaching about Jane Goodall and other scientists who study wildlife. Then we could brainstorm projects that would help the earth. Then, probably as part of a writing project, the kids could write up what we are doing and submit it to the website!
For more information on how to have your classroom or school become a Roots & Shoots site, click here. There is also a free online course this summer (that I'll be taking) called Turning Learners into Leaders: Empowering Youth through Service in Education. It's supposed to help train you on how to carry out service projects with your students. Perfect for my new plan! Here's the flier for the online course: