If all of the recent global actions on the climate crisis have one major thing in common, it’s that young people are leading the charge.
Greta Thunberg and Jamie Margolin have become household names over the last few weeks of intense media coverage on our environmental issues, sparked by the U.N. General Assembly’s meeting occurring in New York City between September 17th – 30th of 2019.
All over the world, the youth have been fighting for their future –– most notably in school walk-outs, such as the major strike on September 20th, 2019 that brought over 4 million people into the streets.
Although school walk-outs are an extremely effective way of bringing attention to our climate, it’s important to also consider what’s being accomplished while children and teenagers are in school as well.
STEM education, a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — is equipping today’s youth to be future leaders in sustainability.
Motivated by the bristling potential of Gen Z, the Arizona Sustainability Alliance (AZSA) has taken the core principles of STEM and sustainability to create three programs aimed at teaching students interdisciplinary skills in both Sustainable Food Systems and Urban Forestry.
These three programs are FoodTech for the Future, Sow It Forward, and the ALPHA Nursery Program.
FoodTech for the Future
The Food Tech For the Future: Growing Digital Farmers Project aims to introduce students, teachers, volunteers, and the community to the world of food computers. The innovative nature of this project will inspire local engagement from tech industries. This project has fostered support from companies like Microsoft, Cox Communications, and ON Semiconductors –– to date we have received $15,000 in funding.
We’ve designed this project to be highly interactive. Students will have the chance to build their own food computer, conduct plant growth experiments, share the data globally and learn about biology, genetics, technology, and robotics through first-hand experience.
This project is meant to educate, engage, and inspire young adults into thinking critically about sustainability issues and creating solutions based on well-founded science, research, and technology. Our hope is that the students involved in the project will continue studying food technology in college and continue to ensure that global food needs are being met.
Watch our Food Tech For the Future video to learn more about the project!
Sow It Forward
This project aims to increase food education and security in Fowler Elementary School District (FESD) through the use of vertical, aeroponic Tower Gardens. So far, we have twenty-three gardens in sixteen K-12 schools and have raised over $25,000 for Sow It Forward.
By creating and supporting a food growing curriculum throughout an entire school district located predominantly within Maricopa County food deserts, this project strengthens food access for the students and teachers.
The aim of this project is to teach kids how to grow food through alternative gardening methods, to create the space and access for students to experiment with growing and eating nutritious food, and to provide the schools with a source of fresh produce for students, staff, and family.
Watch our Sow It Forward video to learn more about the project!
ALPHA Nursery Program
The ALPHA Nursery Program is a self-sustaining nursery that will create a micro-forest environment in an urban setting. It will support a program for students, starting in about second grade, to regularly come to this outdoor classroom for education on trees and their ecology. This program will teach students the importance of trees and how to care for them while supporting their mental health by providing regular retreats into a forest environment, which studies show provides numerous benefits.
Our hope is that by engaging students in these programs, they’ll be fully prepared to take the lead in real-life sustainability initiatives in the future.
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Written by Deanna Pratt for the Arizona Sustainability Alliance