Little stewards, big impact

Story of service submitted by WSC AmeriCorps member Carly Marshall, serving at Clark County Public Health

“Why are you so tall?” a second grader runs up to ask me. This is a valid question, since I am quite tall and tend to stand out in an elementary school cafeteria. Unconvinced that I am also 7 years old and a new student, this young girl then asks me if I am a parent or a teacher. When I say “neither”, she is again dissatisfied by my answer, but we finally get to the purpose of my visit, which is to educate students and help schools with waste reduction, recycling, and composting.

I kneel down to chat with her and her group of friends for about 15 minutes while they finish up their lunch. We discuss why it is important to properly separate your food waste, what they love about our planet, how it sucks to be hungry, how worm poop can make new food, and of course we cover the importance of Beyoncé and how she is more iconic than Cardi B; these are very astute second graders.

Serving as the Environmental Outreach Coordinator for Clark County Green Schools, I spend much of my time out in schools observing lunches, talking with students, and working with custodial staff and administration to reduce school waste. I also assist with Green Team development and environmental certification. During my school visits, I have a lot of humorous interactions with bold and curious students. Just yesterday at Minnehaha Elementary, I was told “Hey, I like your face”. That student and I then continued to chat while she helped me and the building operator monitor the food sort table and clean up the cafeteria.

These silly and fun interactions allow me to connect with students and discuss the importance of environmental stewardship. With these two students and many others, I have watched the wheels start to turn as they internalize the impacts their actions have on the Earth. When I see a student stand a little taller as she realizes that she can be an environmental leader for her school, I feel the reward of my service.

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