Department of Public Works
Generation Earth for Students: Environmental Education for Teens in Los Angeles County

Spotlight on Success: Student Stories

The Generation Earth program exists to inspire students to become engaged in their communities by participating in environmental service projects. The program provides mentorship and learning opportunities to students, supporting them in completing environmental projects, spreading the word on environmental topics, and developing leadership skills. The following spotlight stories highlight students who combine their own commitment with Generation Earth's approach to inspire awareness and change in their schools.

Virgil Middle School

Students: Maria Eushela Quirino, Carina Ramirez, Ariana Garcia, Daniela Labra, Crystal Parada, and Ringo Santiago

Six students at Virgil Middle School (Los Angeles Unified School District) learned a lot and then shared that learning with other students, in a team project that was focused on the relationship between urban pollution and marine life. Students Maria Eushela Quirino, Carina Ramirez, Ariana Garcia, Daniela Labra, Crystal Parada and Ringo Santiago worked with teacher Larissa Karan to complete their "Kid Pollution" project.

Process: Research, Planning, and Doing
Step One was for the team to learn as much as they could about the subject. Through a Los Angeles Unified School District Clean Water Grant, the students received in-depth training on urban water management issues, from water reclamation, to stormwater runoff, to the ways that pollution effects marine life. Then, they dug deeper, investigating sources of beach and ocean pollution created by kids.

Step Two was to plan their project and for this they used Generation Earth's Student Action Guide. This guide helped them understand the essentials of a successful service learning project and lead them on a step-by-step "pathway." Using the project idea mapping worksheet and other tools they came to consensus, set their course, assigned roles, and worked as a team.

The last step was to complete the project. The group agreed that their objective was to raise awareness among other students about what "kid pollution" can do to marine life. They had seen how their own attitudes had shifted from learning about water pollution issues and wanted to share that knowledge in the hope that other students would be inspired as well.

Making a Difference for the Future
The product produced was a school display and PSA on "kid pollution." The team worked after school as a group to create the display, compiling images and video and putting it all together. The display has generated widespread awareness among other students about water pollution issues and has continued to educate. The project is now shared with other classes to teach them about the topic and as an example of a successful project.

Through the process, this group became much more aware of their impact on the environment. They also felt empowered in having an opportunity to pass their knowledge on to other students and saw a connection between their project and the protection of marine life. As one of the students said, "We're the next generation to deal with this problem that has been handed down to us. Teaching students today can make a difference for the future."

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