Badger, Delavan-Darien HS students seeing green
More Walworth County news
For breaking Walworth County news and hourly updates, visit the Facebook.com page throughout the day.
LAKE GENEVA Months ago, Badger High School sophomore Brad Koppenhaver headed to his Lake Geneva school at night to scope out a classroom. He counted windows, checking for leaks, cracks or coverings. He made note of how many of the room’s 25 computers or lights hadn’t been turned off. And he got a new perspective on how energy is conserved -- or wasted -- on a campus where some 1,300 students spend their days.
Koppenhaver was doing an energy assessment as part of Badger’s participation in Green and Healthy Schools, a voluntary statewide program for private and public elementary, middle and high schools, sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
According to the DNR’s website, 139 Wisconsin schools currently are participating in the program, including two in Walworth County: Badger and Delavan-Darien High School.
Dan Werner, the DNR’s coordinator of Green and Healthy Schools, said the program started in 2003 as a way for students and staff to focus on the environmental health and safety of their schools and communities. “Healthy” was added to the title the next year to reflect a nutritional component.
The program is web-based, offering online applications, resources and projects. It’s also self-paced, allowing schools a flexible timeline in completing the three steps involved in certification. Participating schools need to sign a pledge, take a detailed assessment or inventory to meet green criteria, and take steps to maintain or improve five specific areas on campus: waste and recycling, energy, water, the school site and healthy lifestyles. Schools also may tackle other optional areas, such as transportation or air quality.
Schools also may take an optional fourth step, going beyond the program to involve their communities in green practices.
The Wisconsin DPI has been including environmental education as part of its recommended curriculum for more than 20 years.
Awareness is growing
Marty Speth, an agricultural science teacher at Delavan-Darien High School for 23 years, estimated environmental conservation classes have been taught there for more than a decade.
Delavan-Darien achieved step three and was certified a Green and Healthy School in 2010, after Speth took on the program about six years ago as a class project. He sees it as a natural fit for the current crop of students.
“The environment is going to be a huge factor in the future, and kids will have to deal with where they’re going to get their energy, how they’re going to pay for their electricity, how energy will be generated in the future,” he said. “They’re going to have to make daily decisions on photovoltaics or solar, geothermal and wind energy. The fields that are going to have jobs available are green and alternative energies.”
Larry Plapp, an agricultural science teacher at Badger, said he’s seen student awareness of green practices grow.
“The last five years have brought the environment to light,” he said. “Students are interested in making more of that connection, not just as a class, but more of a lifelong learning process.”
Badger sophomore Jason Fong joined the school’s environmental club because he said he’d been on the sidelines long enough.
“A lot of people know you should be doing things like recycling and conserving energy, but there’s not a lot of importance placed on them. I wish (the emphasis) were less casual,” he said.
“I think kids in our generation are starting to realize how much we affect the environment and how much we can change what’s going on in our school by ourselves,” said Anna Niles, a junior who coordinates Badger’s environmental club. “And while we’re learning, we’re also teaching other people.”
To read the full story, see HERE.
Schools, students and parents who are interested in learning more about the Green and Healthy Schools program, should visit:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Green and Healthy Schools website, offering a program overview, workshops and opportunities.
Environmental Education in Wisconsin website, describing classroom resources, suggestions for personal green practices and a network of participating green schools.