Oct. 6, 2009
Liz Babiarz, 404-413-1356
Kermit the Frog is known for saying, "It's not easy being green," but a team of recent graduates and Georgia State students are proving that the opposite is true.
They are the Georgia State University's GreenCorps - a team of seven young adults who are teaching Atlanta public school students and community members to conserve natural resources through simple steps.
"I want to change mindsets and behaviors and do something new in the community that could bring about positive change," said Nichole Hollis, 22, who graduated from Georgia State in May with a journalism degree and joined the GreenCorps.
Over the next year, the GSU GreenCorps members will be working with several community partners, including the Greening Youth Foundation, to bring an environmental-education program into 20 metro Atlanta schools.
The GreenCorps members will start recycling programs and conduct audits to see how and where schools can save electricity, water and other resources. They'll also organize environmental clubs and teach an eight-week, environmental-education course on sustainable habits to grade school students.
For middle school and high school students, the GreenCorps will explain "green" careers, such as those that can promote a clean energy economy while reducing harmful carbon pollution and breaking the dependence on foreign oil.
"By working with the students and getting them excited about being green, we can get them excited for the next generation of green jobs," said Erin Littles, director of the GreenCorps, part of the AmeriCorps.
Outside the schools, the GreenCorps members will promote and preserve local and national parks, and educate teens and adults in low-income neighborhoods on financial literacy.
"I grew up in the projects so I can relate to many people in low-income communities," said Jonathan Canales, 21, a GreenCorps member and GSU senior majoring in psychology and Spanish. "Empowering people to make a difference in their lives is really important to me."
This new initiative is funded by a $140,956 grant the Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently awarded to the College of Education's Alonzo Crim Center. The center works in partnership with school systems, parents, students and community organizations to improve life-long learning and development for people in urban areas.
"In the Crim Center, we believe we must empower the teachers in urban schools to empower the students and this program empowers both teachers and the students to become more green," said Susan McClendon, associate director of the center.
"We're hoping they'll take what they are learning in the classroom and bring it back to their homes so they will have green homes," she added.
In pairs of two, the GreenCorps members will go into local schools to implement the program. Schools are being asked to provide about 1,700 volunteer hours through a combination of teachers, students and parents for the 2009-2010 school year.
Such involvement from the school staff members and community is important, organizers say. After this school year, the GreenCorps will be finished, and the schools will be on their own to see the environmental programs though.
Kara Holloway, 23, a junior majoring in accounting at Georgia State, joined the Green Corps because she wanted to give back to her community even though she wasn't much into the environmental movement. Today, she is seeing things differently."Being green saves me money and it helps the environment," she said. "I now like to garden and I ride public transportation. I'm excited to teach students ways to be environmentally friendly."