Schools around the Columbia Union Conference region in the United States are striving to teach students about caring for the earth, using various activities such as installing solar panels and planting gardens.
Mountain View Conference’s Highland Adventist School in Elkins, West Virginia, recently received a rain barrel from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Division of Water and Waste Management to help provide water for their greenhouse growing program.
Besides being a water source and a learning opportunity for students, WVDEP notes that the barrel helps eliminate non-point pollution caused by melting snow or rain runoff that might pick up and carry away pollutants that would eventually end up back in the various water sources.
School principal Cheryl Jacko said, “I live and work in ‘coal country.’ Issues surrounding environmental stewardship have very real consequences for the families, communities, and economies I serve. Solutions are not easy or simplistic. I believe our global responsibility regarding the care of the earth is to continue to find safer, cleaner ways to generate power, provide transportation, care for refuse, et cetera. I have no direct influence over the global and national decision-making regarding caring for our environment, but I can teach my students to make a difference in their sphere. So we promote and teach recycling, composting, reusing and reducing consumerism.”
Besides having a USDA-certified organic farm that provides fresh produce and grains to community members through several food stands, Pennsylvania Conference’s Blue Mountain Academy (BMA) started conserving more energy in 2013 by simply converting 20 acres (8 hectares) of lawn into hay fields. Prior to this, the school was spending US$10,000 a year on fertilizer and spraying for dandelions.
The school, located in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, has saved approximately 234 man-hours in mowing time, 478 gallons (almost 2,200 liters) of diesel (at approximately US$1,200), and reduced wear and tear on machines, reports Ruben Olm, Enrollment and Development director, who adds that sale of the hay has averaged about US$10,000 per year.
The school has also started a recycling program for paper, cardboard, plastics, glass, metal, and food waste. “It is our goal that by learning and doing these things at BMA, our students will develop habits that will make them good environmental and fiscal stewards of the blessings that God gives them in the future,” Olm said.