Jefferson Awards: East Bay Mom Shows Students The Green Way

EL CERRITO (CBS  5) – Do you know that in one year a typical size school emits 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide, uses about 3 tons of paper and generates nearly 20,000 pounds of garbage?

Parent and former scientist Deborah Moore recently used those statistics while asking her daughter’s El Cerrito class if they had any idea how many plastic bottles are used in this country per year.  Moore is trying to encourage the students to develop lifelong habits that keep preserving our environment in mind and it seems the classroom is the perfect place to start.

“I was an environmental scientist I worked on environmental issues 24/7, and it just felt hypocritical to look the other way at my own daughter’s school,” said Moore. “So I just got started as a parent volunteer.”

For years, Moore worked for the Environmental Defense Fund but it was thanks to her own daughter’s elementary school experience ten years ago, that she realized “being green” wasn’t really part of the school experience. Today, Deborah can look back at the change she made to her daughter’s school Prospect Sierra in El Cerrito.

The recycling program she started a decade ago is still in full swing with composting bins behind the classrooms, barrels collecting rain run-off that help water an organic garden plus even student made playground benches to sit on crafted from recycled wood,

“My dream was that this school would be green top-to-bottom in everything that it did and the students would use the campus as a hands-on laboratory to test out their ideas for how to solve these environmental problems that we’re all facing … and it’s happened,” said Moore with pride.

When Moore saw the success from these environmental lessons, she wanted to spread the message to other schools, so in 2004 she co-founded The Green Schools Initiative. The program helps parents start green programs in their own children’s schools. A website also helps students and teachers go green step-by-step.

Moore has personally trained close to 1,000 teachers and school administrators and so far 300 schools in California are participating.

“Just to increase student’s awareness of themselves on this planet and their impact on the planet is just really our big goal,” said Berkeley’s Rosa Parks Elementary School Principal Paco Furlan.  “And Deborah’s helping us do that.”

Fourth-grader Sarah Weaver is an eager pupil, “I really like learning about it because it’s our future so we really need to monitor and do the best we can to preserve the planet.”

Nygel Sanders, also a fourth-grader agreed, “They don’t realize how important it is for people to recycle and stuff.”

As for Moore, she thinks seeing the students in action gives the greatest hope for the future. “The kids inspire me. For me, action is an antidote to cynicism and making change in the world and doing it with kids is just really positive.”


(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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