Earthly Ambassadors


“ are literally by a redwood forest, and they don’t even know it...we kind of bring that to them”, remarks Alex Lewis from Environmental Education (EE). Directors Alex Lewis, Maya Morales and Toni Castillo have worked tirelessly this year to plan, structure, and implement Environmental Education programs in local schools. EE currently works with Arcata Elementary and collaborates with the SEEDs program at Jefferson Community Center.

In school systems that provide limited natural science education, EE offers a wide range of lesson plans that are largely nature-based and hands on. EE says these hands on activities help young children (7-10) understand difficult concepts like water molecule activity. EE also works to educate youth about the importance of recycling and composting, and the significance of their participation in these activities.

In addition to these lesson plans, EE has also kickstarted an effort to engage children in planting and gardening. They say the children at Jefferson have become really familiar with the garden, “it’s cool because they use that garden as a food source”, says Alex. The directors recalled a laughable moment while gardening at Jefferson when the children became entranced by the number of worms in the dirt. One child created a special bond with one particular worm, naming it “Ws, the Worm” and had a difficult time saying goodbye to them when service ended.

At Arcata Elementary EE led an activity that asked the students to reach into a dark box with items like bones, shells, pieces of coral, rocks, pine needles, leaves, antlers, and so on. This activity helped the children learn how to deduce and be creative with their language. EE says they saw the children transform into little scientists, and improve on their ability to describe the unknown. It becomes apparent that when children are able to interact with nature, they feel a stronger connection to the earth and a larger personal responsibility to it overall.

“Knowing about nature and our surrounding ecosystems, and having that experience at a young age helps shape you…[and] grow into someone that cares about the earth”, notes Maya. EE believes exposing children to activities like gardening, while providing an educational foundation, allows them to have avenues of healing and growth, as well as become positive contributors to the larger natural world.