If it’s spring, that means everyone is talking about the environment. A number of schools and jurisdictions recently held events related to Earth Day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmong my wanderings with my kiddos this past week were the Wetlands Festival at Campbell Elementary School that celebrated the school building a Wetlands Learning Lab for students and solving a persistent water problem at the same time and the ACE Green Living Expo, sponsored by Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and part of Arlington Earth Week Community Fair.


At the Green Living Expo, my son had the chance to turn the wheel of an energy-efficient bulb and fail miserably to light up a traditional incandescent by comparison, to view some gorgeous rain barrels made by students across the county (and sold at a silent auction), and to enjoy some beans and rice and veggies from the 100% vegan vendor Everlasting Life Cafe. If I hadn’t had the munchkins with me, I’d have enjoyed some of the many interesting talks, including one about farm-to-school by Arlington Public Schools’s Food Service Director Amy Maclosky. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


In the exhibit hall, I was taken with the concept of Yuck Old Paint, a pick-up and disposal service. Since my yard still has a bunch of containers we inherited when we bought the home we renovated and moved into now 8 months ago, and since I missed the recent E-Care waste day, I just might give this new company a call!


But the most impressive part of Earth Week for me was hearing students from around Northern Virginia talk about how their schools go green in the School Environmental Action Showcase sponsored by NoVA Outside. Like last year’s inaugural Green Schools Expo, this event was held at George Mason University’s Fairfax campus and gave students the opportunity to talk to other students, parents, teachers and local elected officials in an expo hall full of inspiring displays.


In addition to talking with other schools and vendors in the expo hall, all 350 students in attendance had the chance to connect with other area non-profits, and schools participating in the Earth Force program enjoyed student presentations on the topic of “Caring for Our Watersheds.” These middle-schoolers had worked on their projects for the past several months, and the finalists presented them in a competition at the SEAS event. Arlington County’s H-B Woodlawn program took second place for a presentation called “Frankenfish.” From Fairfax County, Centreville Elementary took third place for “Rain Barrels,” and Lanier Middle School took the $1000 prize of first place for its presentation, “Loosening Erosion’s Grip.”


As a volunteer for NoVA Outside, I participated as judge of the expo hall displays and programs for an informal Green School award program. There were 40 schools represented, and boy, did their students have a lot to say. I was amazed at how poised and passionate these pint-size environmentalists were! Well, a lot of the students were, in fact, bigger than me, coming from middle and secondary schools.

But even the youngest of the participants knew their stuff. To hear children from Polk Elementary in Alexandria talk about their school’s Greenovations and their new environmental club started by two first-graders, and to hear Hollin Meadows Elementary students talk about creating an Android App that gives a tour of their school gardens, I had half a mind to believe the world might be saved by the time I’m a grandparent.



NoVA Outside is still a new organization and is always looking to make more connections, so if you’d like to get in on this action, check out the next quarterly business meeting and professional development session on Wednesday, May 1, 4-7 p.m.,  near Tysons Corner .


When she’s not volunteering or cooking, Jessica Claire Haney blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, where the wilderness meets the sidewalk.