How do you encourage teenage students to care about their community and the environment? Engaging junior high students in conservation education can be challenging but also very rewarding. Preserve the QC is an award-winning presentation created by the Environmental Education Exchange (E3) and the Town of Queen Creek, Arizona. An interactive multi-media format is used in the classroom to educate students about solid waste and recycling, air quality and water conservation. The presentation serves as an informal invitation for youth to become environmental stewards in their own community. Now in our second year of program implementation, Preserve the QC has been extremely well received by Queen Creek area schools.
By drawing attention to a sense of place with familiar landmarks, in tandem with impactful and quickly moving images, students start to realize how they fit into the bigger environmental picture. The presentation incorporates humor, creativity, and a bit of competition. These components help immerse students in the presentation. Alternating between an innovative presentation style, and allowing students to work in small groups to solve real household challenges, creates a dynamic and effective way for students to learn. Tying present environmental challenges to the future and history of the Town of Queen Creek, continues to show students how they are impacted by the larger environment.
Preserve the QC invites students to look at their behavior and implement small, yet meaningful changes into their daily routine. Hands-on activities begin the process of creating new behavioral patterns through fun and effective methods. As small groups work together to decide what belongs in the recycling cart, and to contemplate water usage in each room of the house, students begin to see tangible ways they can help make their household more sustainable. Students start to connect the dots between natural resources and how their choices as consumers have an impact on future generations. All of this practical knowledge is gained by students while additionally using standards-based content in English, math, science, social studies, arts and technology.
The Town of Queen Creek is a small community of 34,000 residents. Through our partnership with the Environmental Education Exchange (E3) we are able to reach 1,500 junior high students each year, allowing Town staff to focus on other outreach opportunities. The partnership allows E3 to be the face of the Town of Queen Creek in schools, with their outstanding team of presenters. Our collaborative effort helps ensure we can offer sustainable presentations in Queen Creek schools for years to come.
One teacher stated in their 2015 evaluation, “I hope you continue this program. I thought it was one of the best presentations that I have seen in my years of teaching!” Preserve the QC empowers teens to make personal changes and to realize that by working together, individuals really can make a difference in their community. Approaching environmental education from this holistic perspective resonates with youth and helps them intrinsically care for our planet. Sharing with teens what they can do to help now, provides a strong foundation for the next generation of educated environmental stewards.