At Earth Force, young people work hard to identify critical issues in their community and develop innovative and sustainable solutions. Once they have taken action, many want to wipe their hands, hang up the tools, and call it a day. But wait! Part of the power of high quality service-learning is looking back, from community environmental inventory to action planning and implementation—to identify what went well and what could have been improved. In fact, recent research on service-learning has shown that this assessment is one of the elements most closely tied to student outcomes. What is this important step?
Reflection is learning that specifically grows out of an experience. Through this assessment of looking back on the implications of actions taken – good and bad – determining what has been gained, lost, or achieved, and connecting these conclusions, students are able to fully understand what they’ve accomplished, leading to those all-important “Ah-Ha Moments.”
Reflection is a principal component of the Earth Force Process, with time built in after each step for youth to take stock, evaluate what they have accomplished, and articulate some of their learnings. And, when they have finished their project, Earth Force builds in another reflection opportunity, one where young people get to celebrate their achievements and share them with other young people. A student in DC says he learned that a lot of people, beyond him and his classmates, are working towards the same cause of trying to make their local watershed better.
Each spring, young people across the country attend youth summits, coming together to talk about their projects and learn from each other. The summits are joyous, with young people choosing all kinds of avenues for sharing their work, including performance art, PowerPoint presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and youth produced videos. Check out this video from our youth summit in Fairfax, VA.
Visit the Media section of the Earth Force website to learn more about each of the youth summits. Congratulations to every young person that participated in Earth Force this year and for the amazing changes they helped make happen in their communities!