A California organization called Common Vision is taking a message of
environmental protection to schools around the state. Two dozen young
people have been on the road since February, traveling in buses powered
by recycled cooking oil. At each stop, they teach students about
conservation through music, dance and other fun activities and help
them plant fruit trees in their schoolyards.
organization was formed in 1999 to bring together environmentalists and
gardeners with musicians and artists. The result was a two-pronged
approach to conservation education: presenting skits and songs showing
how waste harms the environment and greenhouse gases worsen global
warming, and planting trees that produce oxygen to help the environment
and provide fruit to help feed us.
Common Vision project
director Megan Watson says the volunteers are bringing the children
many messages "about the importance of local foods, the importance of
working together with your community, and then, of course, how they can
impact this crisis of climate change right here in their own
Students dig in
The students at Harmony Elementary School in Los Angeles are responding, according to third-grade teacher Salvador Sotelo.
can see that they are all enjoying themselves and getting to put their
hands in the dirt and learn about the importance of growing trees and
growing their own fruit."
The students say they are having fun and learning something, as well.
"We learned about how we plant trees," says one boy. His friend adds, "And recycle!"
Sotelo says those lessons are reinforced in the classroom.
talk about conservation and pollution. We have also a science unit that
deals with life sciences and what they can do to promote conservation
and protect the environment and their neighborhood."
Fellow teacher Mario Perez notes that many students already recycle.
is something they can relate to, something we try to promote here at
school. So that's a connection that they can make. And it's important
to introduce them to the idea that our planet is in danger, and I think
they connect to that as well."
He says the visit by the Common Vision volunteers has been engaging and educational for the Harmony students.
been so interactive. It's been so much fun. You can see it in their
eyes. You can see it in the faces, in the smiles. They've been smiling
all morning long."
Learning to cooperate to clean up the environment
recycling plastics jugs to use as drums and planting trees that will
bear fruit is fun, project director Megan Watson says the students will
take away a serious message: Humans have contributed to environmental
problems, and together we can solve them.
"It's going to take
a community of people," she explains. "With a lot of the art and music
that we bring to the students, the real focus on that is learning how
to work together, celebrate together and cooperate."
As part of
its annual Fruit Tree Tour, Common Vision has taken that message to
40,000 students and planted trees at 100 urban schools and community
centers. It also conducts reforestation projects, creates community
gardens and promotes the use of biofuels, like the vegetable oil that
powers its buses.
Common Vision volunteers say students are
learning that the environment is not something far away, only at the
polar ice caps, in the mountains or the forest, but is all around them
- in their schoolyard and in their neighborhoods, and they can play an
important part in protecting it.