The new Earth Rangers Clubs Program gives teachers the opportunity to start an official club of Earth Rangers at their school, and participate in fun and educational activities that allow kids to become environmental leaders in their schools and communities!
Jean Dabros of St. Joseph Catholic School in Ganonoque, ON is the Junior Environmental Club Leader at her school and is dedicated to sharing her love for the environment with her students. We talked to Jean about tips for running an eco-club, what environmental topics most interest her students, and her enviro-book recommendations.
Who is Jean?
“A love of the environment and concern over environmental issues has always been a big part of my life. I graduated in 1981 with a BSc Hon in Biology on my way to a job as a Paleoecology Technician with the Geological Survey of Canada. Twenty years and three kids later I obtained my teaching degree and began teaching in Gananoque. I started an environment club at our school back in 2001 and have always had a keen and enthusiastic group of students who have steered the direction of our club.”
Why did you want to start an Earth Ranger Club at your school?
“Four years ago we had an Earth Rangers Presentation at our school that was amazing! Quite a number of our environment club became members of Earth Rangers but due to privacy issues it was too difficult for our whole club to sign up. This summer one of my co-leader teachers noticed that Earth Rangers now had a “Clubs” option. We have been an Eco-school since (at least) 2013 and decided that if we split our environment club into a Jr. and Sr. division (we are a grade 3 to grade 8 club) that the juniors could focus on Earth Rangers and the senior students could focus on Eco Schools. In fact the senior students have enjoyed the Earth Rangers missions and helped and participated with the juniors in accomplishing each mission.”
What are your students most concerned about with regards to the environment?
“Last year our main focus was plastic waste in the ocean and that continues to be a huge area of concern. Gananoque is located at the junction of the Gananoque River and the St. Lawrence River so we can see how litter in our neighbourhood can be washed directly into the Atlantic Ocean.”
Which Missions has your Club participated in?
“We have obtained our badges for School Grounds Investigation and the Nature Scavenger Hunt (both fun outdoors activities). Currently we have completed (but not submitted) Battery Blitz. On January 30 we are having a school colour house day where the whole school will participate in obtaining the TK in Action badge, with an elder visiting and storytelling as well as different centres for celebrating and learning about Indigenous culture, beliefs and care for the environment.”
The St. Joseph Gananoque Environmental Club
What fun enviro-activities have you done with students in the past?
“The students love to do things that get them moving or doing things with their hands. We made pine cone bird feeders this year. They like to plant seeds and watch things grow. Every year we participate in Tomato Sphere which the children always enjoy.
We are fortunate to live in an area with many opportunities to get outside and hike! This is the student’s favourite activity. We go out in the yard and play games that teach environmental principles.
We have run school wide campaigns to reduce single use plastics—one year selling stainless steel straws, aluminum water bottles with the school logo, making beeswax wraps. Activities that cover a wide range of interests—some members are salesmen, some are artists, some like to talk to students and read announcements—not every student does everything.”
Do you have any tips for others in engaging students with environmental projects?
“Start small! Take on one issue at a time (or for the year). Usually we start with how the issue we are learning about impacts the wildlife. The students love animals and so learning how the issue affects the animals helps engage us and encourages us to teach others how to make changes that will help the wildlife. We love videos and hands on activities which help keep us engaged. Older students want to be involved in planning and carrying out an action that will actually make a difference that they can see/measure (e.g. waste reduction; trash/compost/recycling weights before and after a campaign).”
Jean’s enviro-book recommendation
“My favourite go-to resource is my “Project Wild” book produced by the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Many of their activities are available online now http://cwf-fcf.org/en/explore/wild-education/project-wild.html. Also Green Teacher https://greenteacher.com/ is a wealth of information and great ideas on how to engage students. Of course Earth Rangers!”
Learn more about the Earth Rangers Clubs Program and how to register here.