Environmental education is important no matter what age you are, but Turlock’s youngest residents this week are learning why conservation is key during the city’s 11th annual Go Green Week.
Students at Crowell Elementary School traded in their pencils and notebooks for shovels and dirty hands Tuesday morning, branching outside of their traditional classroom setting to plant three October Glory trees on their campus as part of Go Green Week festivities.
The City of Turlock Municipal Services Department coordinates annually with participating schools throughout the city to provide a weeklong environmental education campaign which teaches students about conservation and pollution prevention strategies such as recycling, composting, water conservation and waste reduction activities.
In addition to planting trees this week, students will be able to participate in a number of different scheduled activities including tours of the water treatment facility, live animal shows, campus beautifications and more.
The program has grown to include 12 different campuses over the past ten years, impacting about 11,700 students. Thanks to the recent addition of Sacred Heart and eCademy, this year’s Go Green Week is the largest program to date.
The sheer size of the program and number of participating schools has allowed the City of Turlock to make significant strides in waste reduction over the past decade, and Go Green Week coordinator Toni Cordell laid out some of the program’s most impressive accomplishments at the Feb. 27 Turlock City Council meeting.
“Some program accomplishments include 19,000 pounds of waste diverted from the landfill, and 222 trees planted so far,” Cordell said.
After campuses complete tree planting activities this week, that number will rise to 249 trees planted during Go Green Week so far. Go Green Week also facilitates a recycling competition between the campuses each year, which, so far, has raised over $11,000 for the city’s schools.
Turlock Scavenger owner Allan Marchant has collaborated with the City to help with the recycling competition over the years, and views it as a vital program for the community’s youth.
“I always look at it that the kids are probably going to save us because they’re the ones that go to the parents and say, ‘This is what you have to do,’” Marchant said. “I think educating the kids is the way to go and that’s what’s really going to make this thing work.”
While all of the campuses that participate in Go Green Week give it their all, there is one school that has gone above and beyond when it comes to conservation, Cordell said.
“Walnut Elementary education center provides a number of opportunities for students to engage in hands-on activities both during Go Green Week and outside of Go Green Week,” she said.
Walnut has continually demonstrated an exceptional commitment to environmental education on their campus, Cordell added, and this year the school developed a pilot program for organics recycling on campus.
The recycling program has resulted in 60 to 65 percent less trash on Walnut’s campus. It now takes less time to set up for lunch since about half of the campus’ trash cans have been retired, Cordell said. The program will hopefully serve as an example for similar practices at other schools.
While children are certainly the stars of Go Green Week, they’re not the only ones that can benefit. In conjunction with the event, the City’s Bus Line Service, Turlock Transit, will be offering free rides for all passengers on fixed routes all week long through Saturday.
For more information on the City of Turlock’s Go Green Week program, contact Cordell at 209-668-5474 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.