As Kermit the Frog once said, it's not easy being green.
But students across Turlock are learning why it's worth the effort this week, as the city celebrates its fifth annual Go Green Week.
“The Go Green program is our environmental campaign for outreach and education,” explained Go Green Week coordinator Toni Cordell. “It's the cornerstone of our school-age program.”
It's a week filled with activities for school-age children, ranging from tree planting to recycling contests and tours of Turlock's wastewater treatment facility. Some campuses will have guest speakers and informational assemblies, while others will sponsor contests focused on a green theme.
The myriad events all focus on a central theme: teaching students to conserve, cut pollution, and recycle. It's part of instilling in Turlock's children a respect for their community and the earth, organizers say, helping to plan for a more verdant, sustainable future.
To help those students remember their green lessons going forward, each receives a Go Green awareness wristband to wear throughout the year.
The program's grown sharply since its start in 2008, when the City of Turlock partnered with just one school – Sandra Tovar Medeiros Elementary School. Today, the program has expanded to nearly all Turlock Unified School District campuses, with more than 11,000 students participating annually.
“We've been doing the program for several years,” said Brett Sutterley, Go Green site coordinator at Walnut Elementary Education Center. “... It's just been a wonderful opportunity for kids of all ages.”
Sutterley said the program is more than just environmentalism. It also gives children leadership opportunities, with Walnut students banding together to produce public service announcements to spread the word about conservation.
Go Green Week has achieved some concrete results in its half-decade of existence.
Nearly 13,000 pounds of waste have been diverted from local landfills, 96 trees have been planted, and almost $3,000 has been fundraised for local schools through recycling alone.
Go Green Week isn't just for kids. The Bus Line Service of Turlock will offer free rides throughout the week, in hopes of encouraging Turlockers to drive less. Crowell School will hold an e-waste recycling event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, where all Turlockers can drop off outdated – and potentially environmentally hazardous – electronic goods.