Future Leaders in Sustainability to Showcase School Environment Initiatives at Climate Cycle’s Soire

February 09, 2012 | Written By:

Today, the HSC team shares a guest blog from our friends over at Climate Cycle, a non-profit organization that creates environmental education and leadership opportunities for youth in the classroom and in our communities.

by Joey Feinstein

If you’re like me, inspiring students to green our world is a passion of paramount importance. At Climate Cycle, we seek to fulfill this mission by supporting youth-led initiatives that encompass personal, planetary and economic sustainability.

On Feb. 25, five student led eco-initiatives will be on display at our annual benefit at the Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago (free childcare ages 4-12). Each body of work represents the efforts of students age 8-18 years old from schools across Chicago. While the projects are as diverse in scope as the students themselves, each explains how their focus is applicable to personal, planetary and economic sustainability. The projects are as follows:

  • Smyser Elementary's Green Team performed an audit of school waste and decided to take action! With the data, they are brainstorming ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle more of the waste that is currently being thrown out and sent to landfills. Their first approach will be to develop a presentation to help students and teachers understand the basics of recycling and promote classroom recycling. Their second goal is to implement a waste management system in their lunchroom, where students help other students and staff in recycling, composting, and using less.
  • Students at Walter Payton College Prep High School were appalled at the amount of energy being devoted to lighting rooms that were empty, especially on the weekends. They plan to monitor lights in classrooms after school and collect data. Then, they will launch a school-wide initiative to educate people on how and why to remember to turn off lights and take another data set to gauge results.
  • Building from a garden project started last year, students at Perspectives Math and Science Academy will learn about factors that affect plant growth and why much of our food is shipped from great distances. They will also design a system to grow plants utilizing student-made mini greenhouses from materials they find at home.
  • The Lincoln Elementary School Eco-Action Team is embarking on a project to change the way their school uses paper. Students found that much of the paper that should be recycled is being diverted to waste bins, recycled paper is rarely being used, and unnecessary printing often takes place. To remedy these issues, students will reduce the overall use of paper in their school, improve their recycling program so that waste and recycling bins are being used properly, encourage teachers, students, and parents to use and reuse recycled paper, and will subscribe to an e-book site that allows students to read assigned texts on school computers.
  • This past summer, students at Al Raby High School for Community and Environment worked tirelessly in our habitat restoration efforts in East Garfield Park. They reclaimed green spaces, removing juniper bushes which are a favorite of landscapers for their easy maintenance but do little to support plant or animal biodiversity. They also planted over 600 plugs of Native prairie grasses and plants in the area to co-create the initial living classroom which is being utilized in outdoor education programs by the school. They will continue to scale up their work sites, which support learning about flood water remediation, soil remediation, sustainable farming, urban permaculture, habitat restoration, vermiculture, wildlife monitoring, nutrition and wellness. 


Polaris Elementary School students, winner of last year's Student Showcase at the 2011 Climate Cycle Benefit. This Friday, ABC 7’s Hosea Sanders will be showcasing one of the 2012 projects on the 5 p.m. news. Hosea will also be the MC for Climate Cycle’s Feb. 25 benefit.

In addition to those students on hand representing their respective projects on February 25, Climate Cycle’s newly launched Student Leadership Board members will also be in attendance. These students will be on hand to share their eco-aspirations and how they are being groomed to become the face of Climate Cycle.

The truth is that sustainability is something we’re all figuring out as we go along, because we don’t have ready examples of what a truly sustainable society looks like. Who better to unleash these secrets than young visionaries who can transform themselves into their own role models in the process?

We hope you will join us on February 25 at the Notebaert Nature Museum to meet the youth who will redefine our future.

Kudos to the emerging leaders in sustainability. Keep up the great work Climate Cycle!

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