Environmental Action Civics in Action

Students Change Statewide Mold Policy in Virginia

Students at George Washington Middle School identified the presence of mold in their school. After unsuccessfully working with their school district administration to make changes, students reached out to their state Senator to draft a bill that would impact indoor air quality statewide. The resulting legislation was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor in the Summer of 2020. This policy will force school boards to overhaul rules concerning mold in schools. 

Students Advocate for Equity in Charleston, SC

Fifth grade students in Charleston, SC, spent seven years advocating for a pedestrian path on the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and won. Over a million people a year cross the bridge on bikes or on foot creating a connection between two diverse communities. Don Sparks, president of the Charleston Bicycle Advocacy Group, commended the students saying, “I will never again take on an environmental issue without involving young people.”

Students Change Recycling Policy in Wentzville, MO

Students from Wentzville Middle School worked with local Home Owners Associations and the local government to draft a Multi-family Recycling policy. Prior to the new policy’s adoption single-family homes could participate in curbside recycling, however, anyone living in a multi-family dwelling had to drive their recyclables to a recycling center. After drafting the policy, the students introduced it to the Stormwater Advisory Committee who agreed to present the policy to the Board of Aldermen. The policy was presented to the Board for its final reading and adoption. 

Conserving Energy in San Jose, CA

Students in Independence High School (the largest High School in Northern California) in San Jose, CA wrote a policy proposal to their school district, hoping to conserve energy. They proposed to their district that school pools remain covered and that they change swimming units to align with warmer weather, resulting in reduced energy use for pool heating, pumping, and chlorinating. The district agreed to enforce policy around pool covers, and is currently considering changing the schedule. 

Saving Fish in Charleston, SC

Students in Charleston recognized that poor fishery management was threatening the swordfish population off the coast. Over three years the students worked with local and national policy makers, in the end convincing them to change how bycatch is regulated in the region. The result: improved fish populations.

Saving the Winkler Preserve

Young people saved the Winkler Preserve from a proposed transportation development for the new federal buildings. The students fought a proposed ramp off Interstate 395’s HOV lanes that would have destroyed about a third of the 45-acre Winkler Botanical Preserve.  “The students saved this place.” 

Improving Drinking Water in Ann Arbor, MI

Students at Rudolf Steiner School learned that many people did not know about toxic pollution of dioxane throughout the state. The Dioxane Plume was moving towards the Huron River and would have a harmful impact on its water quality. The students advocated that the state government permanently lower the levels of allowable dioxane in drinking water. They worked in partnership with adult advocates to petition to permanently reduce the allowable levels. In October of 2017, the state permanently changed the allowable level of dioxane to 7.2 ppb (down from 85ppb).

Creating Green Space in Detroit, MI

Sitting on 3 lots directly across from Cody High School, Hope Park is a student-led project seven years in the making. A group of Cody students convinced the Mayor’s Office to demolish three abandoned buildings, creating 3 plots of urban green space. With the support of a local Earth Force partner, EcoWorks Detroit, the students were able to acquire the land for themselves and secure a grant from the Kresge Foundation.

Reducing Flooding in Sheridan, CO

Earth Force students in Sheridan, CO pushed for a solution to a stormwater problem at their school. The students identified the problem - their track kept flooding due to the blue shale impermeable surface underneath, an undersized gutter system, and the nearby seasonal stream filling up from more 100-year events. Facing budgetary resistance from their superintendent, the students looked to civic solutions. Enter the Mile High Flood District, who is now undertaking the $4-$5 million improvements identified by the students.

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