A few days ago I visited the elememtry school in Agua Buena to talk with the students about environmental responsibility. Our friends Jacob and Trina (who work with the Peace Coprs) invited Eliot and I to participate in the values program they have been teaching in the schools. Among the values were responsibility. Since Eliot had to return to the US for a bit, I gave a talk about the importance of environmental stewardship. The kids were excited and had a real interest in learning more. Most of the kids have already been exposed to more environmental education than elementry students in the States.
Once the discussion was over, I split the kids into groups, and we went outside to plant trees in the back of the school. The kids were energized as the older students (6th graders) helped the younger students (1st graders) clear a spot and dig the hole. We planted 6 trees in total. Some of the kids put rocks incircling the trees to protect them. They even realized that the most important part of reforesting is protecting the tree from being cut down or harmed. It was really touching to see them caring for the trees. And to top it off, the kids who finished first went around the school yard and collected all the basura (garbage) they could find.
Many school sites in the surrounding community have land in need of reforestation. We have talked with several principals (directores)about supplying saplings and planting trees with the kids. These meetings have led us to consider schools as another area where we would like to focus our reforestation efforts. It you think about it, there are lots of similarities between an erroding riverbank and a barren schoolyard. In one instatnce you have nutrient-rich top soil being washed away, increased flooding, and degrading water quality. On the other hand you have kids learning in a place that does not refelct a healthy environment which increases the chance of environmental irresponsibility and ultimatly the quailty of education. Yes it may be cheezy, but i believe that the kids of today are the topsoil of tomorrow. We all must restore the quailty of environmetal education throughout the world while simultaneously restoring our ecosystems.