Join us: If you are interested in working with us or volunteering in Greenfield's schools, please send us a note.
Greening Greenfield is committed to helping young people take action to save the health of the earth and has worked best with them when we have been asked to help enhance their awareness of, develop understanding of, and take action toward personal and communal resiliency. Typically our work has been with both youth and their teachers.
GG has worked:
- on school grounds to create gardens;
- in classrooms...observing student work and providing feedback… supporting teachers during a lesson … guiding and participating in art projects;
- with educators and town officials to develop a school composting program;
- in community gardens helping youth learn about vegetable gardening while performing community service and filling a real-world need;
- with Educational Specialists from NESEA (New England Sustainable Energy Association) to stay knowledgeable about curricula; and
- in conferences to learn about, and share with teachers and administrators information on farm-to-school program development.
The key ingredient is for interest in resiliency to be expressed by children and / or the adults who live and work with them.
5th Grade Water Unit—2015 onward
Inspired by the Connecticut River Watershed Council's (CRWC now CRC, the CT River Conservancy's) work with 5th graders in Holyoke and a grant to Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRGOG) on water management, GG is working with Greenfield 5th grade teachers and students on water and the principles of sustainability.
Greening Greenfield’s purpose is to work with 5th grade teachers to support them in expanding their teaching of the water cycle. (See below for standards.)
They are lofty goals, and we have not been disappointed! They included that Greenfield students in grade 5 would understand the importance (sacredness) of water, and become champions and stewards of clean water and our rivers, marshes, lakes and oceans throughout their lives. We had hoped that learning would include experiential science, art, and community service in and out of the classroom. Through this process students would learn about ecosystems, watersheds, the concept of “sustainability,” and how we can all make a difference through stewardship of water and our world.
To see Greenfield Middle School students talking about their green initiatives: Composting and Trout in the classroom project, click here.
2015 Sept & Oct
The water unit was kicked off by an assembly and a Community Service project:
Andy Fisk of the CRWC and David Boles, a Friend of the Green River kicked off the unit with an assembly for the 140 5thgrade students and teachers. The next week all 140 students went on a field trip to help with the Green River Cleanup, and making lists of what they picked up. The Hitchcock Center for the Environment also visited and engaged students in a hands-on activity with a table-top sized watershed that demonstrated the impact of point and non-point pollution.
Report from Anna Marchefk, 5th grade teacher about the unit:
Students learned about the water cycle, watersheds, water quality (riparian buffer zones, wetlands, forests), and human impact on the natural world – specifically related to our impact on water. Students engaged in hands-on activities that demonstrated the process of water through the cycle from liquid to gas, gas to liquid, and from solid to liquid to gas.
At the end of these lessons students were asked to demonstrate and apply their understanding of how the natural world helps to protect waterways and the ways in which humans impact their environment by participating in a culminating project titled “Dream-A-Stream.” Modeled after the Dragonfly Pond activity from Project Wet, students were asked to work in groups of three to design a community that met the needs of the humans living there, but also protected the river/stream that traveled through their town. Relying on what they had learned in class; observed during the Hitchcock Lesson (Enviroscape); learned from the visit by the Connecticut River Watershed Council; and from the Green River Clean-up experience; students brainstormed all the things that they thought humans need most in a town or city and what wildlife might need to thrive and be healthy. Using this information and a rubric, students created a rough and final draft of their community. Students presented their towns to one another and the project was completed when the entire fifth grade joined communities in our hallway, showing how one community can impact many more downstream.
2016 The 5th grade teachers again kicked off the school year with the water unit. They repeated the previous year’s efforts and expanded the unit to social studies and art. In social studies students read “A Long Walk to Water,” a story about a child in Africa who spends her day fetching water for their family.
Following is Anna’s report about these additions.
We have been spending so much time reading, writing, engaging in the Green River Cleanup, making art, etc. around water these past few months - it's been awesome!
We just had our Taste of World Cultures event at GMS and after reading "A Long Walk to Water" our students have been making bracelets to sell to raise money to support the Iron Giraffe project, which builds wells in South Sudan so that remote villages have access to clean water.
Karen Gaudette, our art teacher, is doing an art project using clay. They have been discussing water (how it erodes rocks into smaller and smaller materials - eventually making clay), how clay holds moisture, and how removing water changes its texture.
Following are Grade 5: Earth and Space Sciences as recently proposed for adoption:
Science and Sustainability Expos
2015 Science & Sustainability Expo March 7, with free workshops for educators
Workshops offered in preparation for the Expo:
KidWind Hands-On Wind Energy Education
Educators and youth in grades 3-12 build and take home a free model electricity-generating wind turbine with your own blade design. Learn about the knowledge, skills and resources needed to bring wind energy education to your youth using standards-based activities in an engaging, hands-on manner. Also find out about the KidWind Challenge that was held at Greening Greenfield's Science and Sustainability Expo on March 7, 2015, a competition where teams test home-made, small-scale wind turbines in a wind tunnel.
Dream Green Living. Dream Green Living Model Homes and Resilient Landscapes
Dream Green Living challenges young people and others to design and build imaginative and fun model homes and landscapes, and/or a village system with features that enable people to live a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle with low impact on the natural environment over a long period of time. Explore sustainability, environmental stewardship, energy concepts and ecology with your students, and learn about climate mitigation through landscape design while engaging in the engineering process as you design, construct, manipulate, play with, and redesign the tabletop creations. The project can be a collective learning experience, and is accessible to a wide range of learners.
This workshop is a cooperative hands-on adventure, and will model the process of bringing this project to youth. Final products can be exhibited at a free culminating event, the EnergyTeachers.org's Green Dollhouse Challenge, that will be held at Greening Greenfield's Science and Sustainability Expo in Greenfield on March 7, 2015.
2014 Science & Sustainability Expo- 3rd annual event was held March 1, 9am-3:30pm
Science and Sustainability Expo 2012 a Great Success
On Saturday, May 5, 2012, enthusiastic chatter from over 150 children, parents, volunteers and visitors participating in Greening Greenfield’s new Western Mass Science and Sustainability Expo filled Greenfield Community College’s dining common.
“We were really pleased with the number of people who participated, and the variety and quality of projects and exhibits that youth brought to the event,” said Susan Reyes, event coordinator. “There was such a fun, supportive, and enthusiastic atmosphere – we really want to do it again!”
The event included three elements: the competitive KidWind Challenge, and non-competitive Youth & Educator’s Showcase, and the Green “Dollhouse” Challenge.
During the KidWind Challenge, a national competition, the 14 teams of secondary students who had designed working models of wind turbines, lined up to have their 3-foot turbines judged for quality of design before moving onto the wind tunnel. Here students gathered and cheered encouragement as each took a turn to test the output of their turbine, which was projected onto a large screen.
In the non-competitive Youth & Educator’s Showcase, students, teachers, parents and volunteers visited the 33 displays, asking questions, sharing information, and writing comments in booklets that the students took home with them. The displays showcased projects and initiatives relating to ecology and environmental science, technology and sustainability, such as climate change, renewable energy, composting, carbon sequestration, and others. There was also a special area for entries in the EnergyTeachers.org Green “Dollhouse” Challenge. On display were several model sustainable houses and “Green Stream,” a sustainable recreational vehicle.
Overall, 60 youth, 12 educators, 20 volunteers and numerous exhibitors, parents and attendees took part in the Expo. Youth came from 8 elementary, middle and high schools, some of which are participating in the UMass STEM RAYS (Research Academy for Young Scientists) project or \the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers, as well as a display from the Girl Scouts of North Hatfield Troop 11313. There were also displays from the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, the New England Small Farms Institute, the UMass Wind Energy Center, the Franklin County Solid Waste District, and the Pioneer Valley Biochar Institute. Students were from Mohawk Trail Regional High, Greenfield High, Holyoke Catholic High, Franklin County Technical School, Amherst Regional Middle, Montague Elementary, Hopkins Academy, Four Rivers Charter and an area home school.
“We wanted to enable local educators and youth to share and inspire one another with their science and sustainability projects, and to offer celebration and encouragement for their endeavors by a deeply caring and competent team of over 20 local, experienced volunteers – and we were really happy with the outcome,” added Susan.
The event closed with a ceremony where each team was acknowledged for their participation and creativity, and awards were handed out to the KidWind Challenge teams.
Greening Greenfield would like to thank Susan Reyes and all the students, teachers, and volunteers for their vision and efforts.
2013 Science & Sustainability Expo- 2nd Annual held Sat, April 13 - click here for how 35 exhibits wowed attendees, and click here for a list of Green Dollhouse and Showcase exhibits and KidWind entrants and prizes. click for 2013 S&S Expo photos
2012 Science & Sustainability Expo- First ever - held Sat, May 5, 2012. Click for full story of Inspiration in Action: KidWind Challenge, Green Dollhouse Challenge & Educational Projects Showcased - 4th-12th grade Educators and Home Schoolers.. more photos...and in the news
HS Students Paint Recycling Toters (2010)
If you have wished there were a handy place to throw away an empty can or bottle in the public areas of Greenfield, your wishes are coming true. Thanks to the art students at Greenfield High, Wisty Rorabacher, and a grant from the Greenfield Local Cultural Council, a community art project called Artfully Recycle was born. Our Town is now decorated with eye-catching toters that call out to you to recycle those cans and bottles.
Eight Greenfield High School students were inspired to do something to cut the amount of trash that goes to our land fills. Wisty Rorabacher, a retired high school teacher who has completed numerous community-based projects with students that won national awards, applied for a Local Cultural Council grants, because she knew that public art projects done by teenagers help build positive relations between young and older citizens, students and town officials. “I wanted to do a project combining my interest in art, education, community, and sustainability.”
Artfully Recycle was a group effort. In addition to the students and the grant, Sandy Shields and Janine Greaves, Greenfield Department of Public Works agreed to provide 10 large, green toters for the students to paint. Shields and Greaves also agreed to judge the students’ designs to insure that the designs would attract attention and increase city-wide recycling. Art teacher Debbie Prondecki welcomed the toters and the clutter of a group art activity into a section of her classroom.
Prondecki and Rorabacher met with the students and talked about both recycling, as part of sustainability, and graphic design. The students were challenged with articulating simple, clear messages about sustainability and communicating those ideas through original designs.
“When I began this project, I thought of all the instruments I used to make out of pan-tins, pots, and bottles, all recyclable products. I wanted to use this idea to incorporate music with nature.” said twelfth grader Candace Bellville describing her design process. “ I really hope these bins catch people’s attention and get them to think more about recycling and their effect on nature. Hopefully, this will be another big step in helping Greenfield become more green.”
Many challenges popped up as the project evolved. Should the designs be single sided or wrap around the toters? How could the designs be transferred to the toters? Purchase of an art projector solved that problem - and this projector is now available for community use. What kind of paint will stick to the toters, which are designed to resist grafiti? After numerous tests and discussions, the students finally got to work.
During spring semester, Rorabacher worked on her own toter in the high school art room for 3-4 hours, two days a week. “It was important to be there with the students, sharing the process of art, of creativity. Beyond asking one another for advice, celebrating one another’s progress, and simply being a listening adult, it was important to model putting in the time needed to complete a project.”
Rorabacher added, “I hope this is only the beginning of my being involved with the high school. There is so much positive energy and willingness to take action. And I hope town officials and business owners will seek out public art projects that involve students of all ages. Think of how delightful it would be to have school art throughout Greenfield!”
“This project was AWESOME!” said Janine Greaves, Recycling Coordinator for the Greenfield Department of Public Works. “The toter with mermaids on it is going to be at the Green River Swimming Area, and the one with sunflowers on it will be at the Town Hall. Others will be placed at strategic places around town, so please look for them, and honor the students by pitching in your bottles and cans!”
Center School 6th graders (2009) survey people on the street in Greenfield about their awareness of climate change and the Greenfield 10% Challenge. They make graphs and presentations about their findings.
Empowering Students to Seek Climate Change Solutions (2009 & 2010) Greenfield Middle School, Expanded Learning Time (ELT) program.
Middle School Expanded Learning Time Activities