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Professional Development

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Earth Day 2016: Ideas for your Program

Twenty million Americans took to streets, parks and auditoriums on April 22, 1970, in an effort to ensure our planet's heath and sustainability. The day marked a rare moment of political alignment as Republicans and Democrats stood together in defense of our environment. On April 22, 2016, the 46th year of this important day will be celebrated. You and your afterschool students could support Earth Day 2016 in a multitude of ways.

Nearly one-fifth of the world's man-made greenhouse emissions are generated by the meat industry. You don't need to become a vegetarian to make a difference. You and your afterschool students could discuss "Meatless Monday" dinner ideas. Students will have fun generating these "green" Monday meal ideas.

Each year, more than a million pounds of food are thrown away. Composting allows you to turn your food waste into soil. If you and your students start small and learn the composting ropes; soon, the process will become second nature. Engaging children in this activity creates a whole new generation of composters—and show me a kid who doesn't like playing in the dirt!

Over the past few decades, we have consumed more resources annually than the Earth can replenish. Talk to your afterschool students about reducing this unsustainable behavior. Their actions could benefit our planet and help improve their future living conditions.

You and your afterschool students could have a conversation about the benefits of purchasing local produce. Buying local can help reduce your carbon footprint—and local produce could be more nutritious.

When children grasp the importance of Earth Day, the day's true intent is realized. Here are some fun, engaging ideas to try with your afterschool students on Earth Day 2016.

  • Make a nature collage or paint rocks. This activity will show your students that art products aren't always purchased at a store and wrapped in plastic.
  • Make a "children's garden." Your students will be so excited—and proud—when their vegetables begin to sprout.
  • Make a creation station corner in your afterschool space. Kids can use recyclable products to make art—and when they're done playing with their masterpieces, they can go back into the recycle bin.
  • Make a rain barrel.
  • Start a can drive. Students could bring in their household's can collection and could also collect in their neighborhoods. The proceeds will go toward your afterschool program.

Earth Day is not a one-day-only event. Let's be kind to our planet, every day.

Written by Lisa Stickler, AfterSchool Today magazine staff writer.