STARTING AND RUNNING AN ENVIRONMENT CLUB
An Environment Club is beneficial to a school and/or college for many reasons but it will never reach its full potential if only one or two members of staff and a few children are involved.
An ECO club will help to promote, monitor and operate the environment activities of the school/college but the whole school community need to be involved in some capacity and more students and staff need to be encouraged to be involved in the programmes operated and monitored by the club. The entire school community need to fully understand the true importance and value of the club and the programmes they develop and run. All too often environment clubs in schools are seen as a token gesture .........allowing a school to say they have such a club and that the school cares about the environment. The true importance and benefit from having such a club is lost.
The school environment club should be seen as the driving force behind all environmental and sustainable activities at the school. Organising, Publicizing, Promoting, Monitoring all environmental/sustainability events, activities and programmes. The students should be the driving force behind the eco club not the staff. An ECO club is very important as it establishes a focal point for all environmental/sustainability activities and programmes in the school and creating a sustainable campus in keeping with the principals of the governments ESDGC, ESD, SDE programme.
Teachers, staff and parents need to be encouraged to become actively involved in the clubs activities. One person, one teacher cannot cover all the potential activities of the Eco Club.
It should be the responsibility of the club to devise, run and monitor school wide activities such as the reducing, reusing and recycling programmes, energy saving schemes, promotional events. The students should report the outcome and/or findings of the programmes/activities to the staff and senior management.
It is my experience that sometimes people young and old are concerned over making a long term commitment to the club. My view is to explain that they can become involved whenever they can or for specific events, programmes and activities.There are a number of important reasons for having a strong Environment Club.
- The club should be run in the same style as an adult club and run with a business like attitude. This will give students the opportunity to develop a number a personal and business skills.
- The club can be a monitoring group for ALL of the schools environmental/sustainability activities. (Monitoring and developing reports, planning and implementing activities; assisting staff in monitoring related programmes and holding regular meetings. This will take a great deal of the day to day pressure for running these activities off the staff of the school.)
- It is a wonderful way for the young people to develop a sense of ownership, school pride, adding to the community spirit.
- It gives students a real sense of responsibility for their place of learning.
- It helps students develop their personal skills such as communication (verbal and written), as they will have to write and present reports. They will have to work with a number of adults such as parents and staff as well as people from outside organisations. Through these activities they will become more articulate, more confident, more creative and develop a sense of purpose as they are able to develop their ideas into practical activities for the club and the school.
It must be remembered that some of their activities may not work but this should in no way diminish from the aims and objectives of the club. If an activity does not work it should not weaken the aims and direction of the environmental aspect of the school community. It is my experience that if everyone is patient and if the activities are well thought through then most if not all the activities will succeed.
RUNNING AN ENVIRONMENT CLUB
Setting up the club.
- First call a meeting for anyone interested in forming the club. This may include students, staff and parents.
- Find a member of staff to be the link person to the other members of staff and administration. This person should not become responsible for the activities and running of the club, they should just be there for safety, and to assist the pupils. If the staff members become the focal point of the club then the club is not working correctly. They just assist the club run smoothly.
- Have a room that is designated as the environment club room (whether it be a classroom or a utility room) It is important that the club feels that it has a base. This gives everyone the feeling that the environment club is well respected by all at the school.
- Make posters to advertise the first meeting and get permission to place the posters in a number of prominent sites throughout the school.
- Find other ways to advertise the first meeting with students, staff and parents. Maybe announce it at an all school assembly, write an article for the school magazine/newspaper.
- At the first meeting come up with a name for the club that will give everyone an understanding of the type of club and give the club a clear identity.
- Design a logo (and possibly a motto/tag line) that can be used on all club documents, posters and any other publicity. THE LOGO CAN BE USED ON LETTER HEADED PAPER AND CAN BE USED TO MAKE REMINDER STICKERS TO BE PLACED ALONGSIDE ALL LIGHT SWITCHES WITH A MESSAGE TO REMIND PEOPLE TO TURN OFF ALL LIGHTS WHEN THEY ARE NOT NEEDED. THE LOGO CAN ALSO BE USED TO CREATE STICKERS TO REMIND PEOPLE TO TURN OFF APPLIANCES WHEN NOT IN USE. The logo will act to solidify all environmental activities under one umbrella organisation and assist in giving the club a clear identity.
- Write a mission statement outlining the aims and objectives of the club. (Remember a copy of this statement and all other written documentation needs to be presented to the Head Teacher)
- Set up an agenda for the first meeting (It may be necessary for someone to explain to the students how meetings are run especially if this is the first time that the young people have been part of such a club) The agenda should include electing such people as: Club chairperson and a deputy chairperson, secretary, possibly a press officer and treasurer. It maybe necessary to explain to the students the responsibilities of the people needed to run a club.
- At the first meeting it will be necessary to fix a regular meeting time for the club; however some of the responsibilities for the activities may take place throughout the week.
- Remember to share the responsibilities for the activities such as: one group to be the energy savers; monitoring the energy use at the school, another group to be responsible for recycling, another for composting etc...
- At the first group of meetings develop a list of what the group would like to see happen. The list should be split into 2. One for short term activities and the second list will be for long term activities. These lists should include aims and objectives of their ideas and how they will to achieve the aims and objectives. The lists may be split into ideas for school and the local community as well as national and global ideas.
- Look at the possibility of joining outside organisations that could help the group to reach its aims and objectives.
- For those involved with the environment club to understand how through the workings of the club they are using important skills taught in the classroom.
SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT CLUB LOGO
By having a professional looking logo on all posters, signs, and messages it will show that all activities are linked to an overall sustainability programme at the school, and will act as an repetitive reminder of how seriously the school takes the issues and show a uniformed approach to all related activities.
SHORT TERM ACTIVITIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT CLUB
(The following is a suggested list; the members of the club will have their own ideas)
- Have a notice board specifically designated for the club. Split the board into 2 sections. One half giving information on local community, national and global environmental events, activities and news. The other half giving information on school only activities and events.
- Start a school wide clean up/reducing/recycling scheme. This should include promotion of the activities through assemblies and poster/leaflet campaigns.
- Arrange visits to the school by outside organisations to give workshops, talks and other activities for the club and where necessary the whole school. (Such as school assemblies) Groups like RSPB, WWF (UK), Wildlife Trust and many other groups have local branches and educational officers who will visit your school for free.
- Develop ways to raise funds for either the group (possibly to purchase any relevant materials that the club needs) or to be used to sponsor relevant activities such as sponsoring acres of rainforest.
- Implement animal, insect, flower and plant monitoring programmes for the school grounds.
- Run a poster design competition with those taking part having their posters displayed at an exhibition at the school to be attended by not only pupils and staff but also parents and invited guests. (This may be run through Art Department.)
- Design an energy cartoon type character that can be used for any reminder posters and stickers such as turning off lights and computers when not in use.
- Develop a programme to plant rare British flowers and plants at the school. (There is an organisation called Landlife based in Liverpool who can provide these flowers and plants at cost.)
- Make crafts from recycled materials. These items could be used by the school and/or sold to raise funds.
- Set up an energy patrol that will patrol the school during beak, lunchtime and after school making sure lights and appliances are off and to monitor wastage of heating.
- Write articles for the school newspaper and possibly local papers and magazines.
- Develop a number of the reduce, reuse, recycling programmes that are mentioned in other areas of this report.
LONG TERM ACTIVITIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT CLUB.
- Set up fundraising events that will raise money for relevant activities and programmes while at the same time develop the ongoing profile of the Environment Club at the school. These fund raising events may include developing a working relationship with members of the local business community.
- Develop a School Environment/Sustainability policy with the head teacher, governors, parents other pupils and staff.
- Start an environment club newsletter. This can be organised through the schools English and IT classes. Or the club can have a page or two in the normal school newspaper.
- Develop a safe routes to school initiative (possibly with the local authority)
- Develop and implement ideas to improve all environmental/sustainability activities and sites on the school campus.
- Set up an eco friendly tuck shop or similar, selling only fair-trade products, with the profits going to the clubs projects.
- Look into ways of introducing and monitoring renewable energy into the school. Solar power panels and/or wind turbines need to be strictly monitored and the energy provided worked out. This will enable the school to establish how much money is saved on the schools energy bill.
- Work at developing sponsorship and support from local industry/companies.
- Development of a school website dedicated to the environment and sustainability.
ANNUAL ENVIRONMENT/SUSTAINABILITY DAY
It would be very beneficial if the Environment Committee could arrange an annual environment day where the school would have a focussed day of activities and events. (In some schools I have visited they have arranged for an environment/sustainability week.)
- All teachers to agree that on the day all their classes would have an
- Environmental/Sustainability theme.
- Organisations including the schools clubs who have a environmental, cultural and social theme would be booked to have displays promoting their aims and activities.
- Run a series of special competitions during break and lunchtime. Invite outside guest speakers to talk to the school community. (if possible include staff and parents)
- Invite the local recycling and environmental departments of your local authority to take part with displays and activities.
- Have a Question Time style event for a selected group of pupils and staff. Where a panel made up of teachers, administrators and invited guests from outside organisations and agencies (including industry) answer pupils questions regarding a variety of important environmental issues.
- Request permission for the day to be a green day with everyone having to wear something green.
- Organise a entertaining parents family and friends night to educate them and the local community on how they can help to make a difference and become more sustainable. This can also be used as a fund raiser.