CS19 Earth Week
Emily Hayne, Environmental Ed. Teaching Fellow 

Conserve School’s fall semester is a time for seasonal change. Students have seen the transition from late summer to autumn. And now with snow on the ground, an invitation for winter. This semester’s Earth Week theme was Changing Seasons: Creating a Culture of Gratitude, Discovery, and Sustainability. Through staff and student workshops, a festive dinner, music, and dance, the Conserve School community collectively created this culture. The success of Earth Week would not have come to fruition without the incredible leadership demonstrated by students in Conserve School's Stewardship in Action (SIA) class. 

The SIA class prepares students to be leaders in their communities by identifying leadership styles and ways to make social and ecological change through education, community engagement, volunteering, direct action, and influencing daily behavior. The weeks leading up to Earth Week, students were given the tools to collaborate in groups on their Earth Fest projects. The seminars and Earth Fest celebration were organized exclusively by the students with the support of event planner Jill Rennicke and Dining Services Manager and Chef Thomas Wiley and his staff. 

Students were incredibly excited and committed to making this week special for the community. According to Margaux of Madison, WI, because of Earth Week, and especially the Friday Earth Fest, “We all became closer, and it’s a great way to celebrate all of the good work we’ve done this semester!” Lily J., also from Madison, WI, had a similar sentiment in that Earth Week, “brings the community together.” 

The SIA students spent time in class, creating Earth Week decorations out of natural materials including birch bark, balsam fir branches, and tree cones. While the decorating crew adorned the dining room in preparation for the Earth Fest dinner, the cooking crew created dishes to serve one hundred people. There were delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts such as butternut pecan sweet potato mash, chicken pot pie, and pumpkin rolls. 

After students delighted in the Earth Fest buffet, Clara of Brookhaven, GA, and Allison of Shoreview, MN, presented several messages of gratitude written anonymously by their fellow students. Some thoughtful words included:

  • "I’m so grateful for all of the amazing friends I’ve made." 
  • "I’m grateful for all the wonderful people that taught me I’m worth loving and loving others." 
  • "I’m thankful for all these wonderful people! Staff, teachers, teaching fellows, all the students -- and of course my amazing friends I love all so much! I’m so thankful for this whole experience."  

Throughout the week, the idea of discovery etched its way into after school seminars hosted by CS19 students. They shared in the joys of learning while some students practiced their roles as educators. Students led seminars on snake myths and facts, knitting and rock netting, conscious consumerism, trail building, leadership, political advocacy, and jewelry making. These seminars were an excellent way for students to share their interests while others learned and developed new skills.

Students and staff explored the concept of sustainability together through staff-led seminars on Friday of Earth Week. Students participated in a variety of activities such as yoga, MovNat body exercise, tree identification, photography, art, bead making, sustainable architecture, and making treats out of pumpkins harvested from the school garden. Earth Week was a time for each of us to celebrate the changing seasons, but also the changes in ourselves.

Nicely set round dining table
Students cooking with pumpkin
Students plating up at the buffet
Dessert Table
Students learning a dance
Students in a circle learning a dance
group of female students posing together
Group of male students posing together

Photos contributed by Jennifer Anderson, Marketing and Enrollment Associate and Kate Houle, Communications Specialist. 

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