A Conversation with EarthGen was published on September 2022 on the PCC Community Market’s website
It’s a sunny day at Rising Star Elementary School on Beacon Hill, as Lisa Sandrock’s first grade class files out of the building and heads to the raised bed garden area next to the playfield. “How big do you think these carrots are going to be?” Sandrock asks, as students gather excitedly around a garden bed. Planted in early spring, the rows of carrots have grown and put out feathery green foliage. “Do you know how to pull carrots out of the ground?” she asks, as small hands reach forward. In response, one of the students proclaims, “I love radishes!”
Later in the afternoon, third and fourth grade students walk through the woodlands behind the school. Formerly overgrown, the area is accessible now thanks to a volunteer weekend of brush clearing and trail building. The students report on the wildlife that inhabits these urban woodlands: red-tailed hawks, big toe salamanders, hairy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, and coyotes. Inside the school, hallways are decorated with student-made posters that analyze energy use and show how switching to more efficient sources can conserve resources and impact climate change.
All these projects are the tangible results of EarthGen’s innovative program to help equip students and teachers with the science knowledge and skills necessary for taking action toward improving their community.
EarthGen’s programs are varied, but all seek to tackle the twin issues of climate change and social injustice. They range from building rain gardens that reduce pollution in waterways to helping minimize food waste in school lunch service. Initially begun as an environmental certification program for Washington schools, with a grant from the state Department of Ecology, EarthGen now reaches nearly 40,000 students in 392 schools across Washington.