Get Them to the Green: An Alumni Grant Winner Inspires Students to Think About the Environment

Get Them to the Green: An Alumni Grant Winner Inspires Students to Think About the Environment

Dejah Powell, a Greenheart Travel Teen Summer Language Camp in Spain alum, was awarded a Greenheart Alumni Grant for her work with the “Get Them to the Green” camp held in Chicago, Illinois. 

Get Them to the Green is very excited to have launched its first summer camp during the week of August 15th through 19th on the University of Chicago campus! We could not have done it without Greenheart Travel’s support. Get Them to the Green engaged with 14 students through the five-day program. Each day of the camp had various themes: Intro to Environmental Science, Food and Agriculture, Environmental Justice, Oceans and Lakes, as well as Sustainability.

On the first day, we began introducing students to the various aspects of environmental science. We watched “The Lorax”, a movie that connected students to the notion of deforestation, and discussed the implications of cutting down trees. We also followed up the day with Jeopardy, where we got a brief assessment of whether our campers learned anything. We gave out prizes such as books, including “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”. We also gave away water bottles, notepads and environmentally conscious items such as organic chap stick and lip gloss.

Throughout the week, we provided a variety of hands-on activities. We conducted water quality tests looking at phosphate, nitrate and pH levels of pond, lake, and tap water. Students also got to play a taste testing game where everyone sampled healthy foods like squash, tomatoes, strawberries and kiwis.

Get Them to the Green Field Trips

Get Them to the Green took two field trips with the students. We first visited the 62nd Street community garden to expose students to idea that food can be grown in their backyard. While visiting the garden, we prompted the students to think critically about the benefits that a community garden provided for the neighborhood. We also took a field trip off campus, where Greenheart guests Kelsey and Lexy came to volunteer with us.

We took the students to the Method Soapbox soap factory located on the far south side of Chicago. Students learned about how Method, a B-Corporation, integrates sustainability into their mission. Some students also got an opportunity to see the greenhouses on the roof of the soap factory. The greenhouses provide vegetables to local Chicago businesses, reducing their carbon footprint by cutting back on the amount of miles the food traveled.

Get Them to the Green Guest Speakers

We incorporated a variety of guests into our curriculum to engage students on environmental-related activities. The Plant Chicago, a non-profit organization that works on zero-waste closed loop ecosystems, spoke with the students about hydroponics and aquaponics systems. We had the Hyde Park Art Center come in and lead an activity where students cut out pictures of birds and were motivated to think of the various ecosystems in which birds inhabit.


The Chicago Youth Alliance on Climate Change (CYACA) also spoke with the students on our final day about sustainability, and how students can make a change within the world. Finally, Elyse from Greenheart came and spoke on the work Greenheart International does with social entrepreneurship. Students learned about the opportunity to participate in Camp Greenheart, which they all got extremely excited about.


Get Them to the Green Final Project

The final piece of the camp included a project, in which students got to choose from a variety of environmental related issues such as air pollution, food deserts or water quality. Students started on the project Wednesday and had three days to prepare. One of my favorite moments of the camp was when one group created a rap to motivate their fellow students to eat healthy foods, breaking the stigma that vegetables were uncool and not delicious.

What’s Next for Get Them to the Green Camp

Evaluation is an important aspect of education, and so we are in the process of analyzing the forms given to students to collect information on what they found beneficial for the program.  I’ve also spoken with volunteers to get feedback on the program; there is a lot that we want to change moving forward for future camps. We want to change the space and location for the camp. We also want to include even more hands-on learning for the students. Kids don’t like to sit and watch presentations for more than twenty minutes or so. We’ll include more outdoor games and activities for the students to allow them to release all of the energy they have. We’re very excited about our first launch of Get Them to the Green summer camp, and we cannot wait for the many more summers to come. Our program will only get better!

Interested in learning more about how you can get a Greenheart Alumni Grant? Check out our Grant page for more information. 

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