This week, I read a great post from an educator who talked about how and why she incorporates civic engagement into her classroom. This section struck me in particular:
“I’ve discovered that, while teaching the content is critical, the larger challenge involves creating educational lessons that are stimulating and meet the needs of my students as they actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.”
It got me thinking about why we do what we do at Earth Force. What do we hope to accomplish?
For the past 20 years, one thing has remained consistent: we want young people, through the country, and the world, to actively engage with their community as influencers and problem-solvers. When we launched the organization in 1994, we started with national awareness campaigns like ‘Go Wild for Wildlife’ and ‘Team Up For Trees’ that allowed young people to see how they could make a difference.
In 1999, we changed the game with the introduction of the Earth Force Process. We wanted a model that really put young people in the driver’s seat around environmental problem-solving. To date, we are still the only organization that effectively combines civic engagement with environmental education.
In 2010, we took our goals one step further by really looking at how communities could support young people long term. Enter our Youth Engagement Partnership model, which aims to provide communities with the support, tools, and infrastructure necessary to elevate youth as leaders. Today, we operate in 55 communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. In each of them, young people are serving as problem-solvers today, with many of them working hand-in-hand with their schools, local government, large corporations, and community businesses.
We need the ingenuity of our youth to help us overcome the environmental challenges our country faces. And we want all young people to recognize that their voices deserve to be heard, their ideas and opinions matters, and that they have the power to create change.