DEVELOPING AN ECOTEAM PROGRAM AT YOUR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY
· Step 1: Find a faculty or staff champion
An important part of the Environmental Leadership Centerís goal for the EcoTeam program is to see it replicated in other colleges and universities, serving elementary schools around the country. If you are interested in starting an EcoTeam program at your college or university, please contact us! Below, you will find suggestions from our experience which will help as you begin the process of bringing environmental education to your communityís classroom. Please read the following information, but donít think you have to do it alone. The Environmental Leadership Center is here to support you at every step of the process. We can help as you make contacts within your own college or university, find the necessary materials to build your EcoTeam kit, determine a budget for your program, and train your facilitators to teach in the schools.
Historically, the most successful EcoTeam programs are those that have a champion to support them. Ideally, this person has experience with or is working in an education, environmental education, or science education department. While strong student leadership is essential to a successful EcoTeam program, a faculty or staff champion will add sustainability to your program. In addition, this person may be able to help support the program financially through department budgets or even incorporate EcoTeam into their curriculum.
If you are members of Roots & Shoots, your faculty or staff champion may be the same person who sponsors/supports your group. Also, the Roots & Shoots manual is a great tool to revisit as you begin your program planning for EcoTeam.
· Step 2: Approach local elementary school(s)
Faculty support will add credibility and legitimacy to your program, therefore making it easier to approach local elementary schools. Most likely, your champion will already have relationships with the very people you need to approach about the program. It is extremely important to be well-prepared before approaching third grade teachers and building administrators. You will need to present them with an accurate timeline. In your excitement to begin teaching, it is easy to underestimate how much time and work it will take to build your EcoTeam kit and adequately prepare yourself for teaching in the formal sector. Be realistic! After all, you are a college student.
Also, consider the reality of funding an EcoTeam program. Before approaching third grade teachers and building administrators, it is important to secure funding for your EcoTeam program. We suggest that you review our example of a Logic Model to help strategize your long-term plan. Be sure to consider the following sources of potential funding:
· Your college/university student activity fund;
· Academic departments discretionary funds;
· Elementary Schools;
· Board of Trustees for and/or friends of your college/university;
· Grants from community foundations and
· Step 3: Logistics
· A. Building an EcoTeam Kit
Using the Materials Section a reference, you will need to put together your EcoTeam kit. This is a lot of work-and a lot of fun! EcoTeam is unique because it can be adapted to be regionally relevant. For example, Lesson Seven: Environmental Citizens highlights people in your own community who demonstrate care and concern for the environment and put that caring into action. You need to ask permission to highlight these people in your lessons, arrange for a photo shoot and interview, and finally assemble the cards.
If at any point as you are assembling your EcoTeam kit you have frustrations or questions, please feel free to contact the EcoTeam Director. Warren Wilson Collegeís EcoTeam has an experienced crew of students who are ready answer questions or problem solve with you.
· B. Training your crew
As a discipline, environmental education continues to move into the educational mainstream. EcoTeam is a program that is designed to represent the field accurately by providing quality education to elementary students while preparing undergraduates to be effective educators in the formal and non-formal sectors. The success of an EcoTeam program depends on your commitment to the underpinnings of the field. For this reason, we emphasize the importance of being adequately prepared to enter the classroom. While one of the objectives of the EcoTeam is to develop the knowledge and skills of pre-service educators, there is an appropriate amount of preparation that needs to be done before you are ready to formally teach. We recommend the following:
· Become familiar with the Philosophy of EcoTeam;
· Read the background information for each lesson;
· Watch the EcoTeam training video;
· Practice, practice, practice! Familiarize yourself with teaching EcoTeam lessons before you actually enter the classroom. Practice with other crew members, for your roommate and alone in the dorm room!
· C. Scheduling EcoTeam lessons
You will need to develop an efficient way to schedule EcoTeam lessons with classroom teachers. At Warren Wilson College, we send a letter to teachers at the start of each semester. Teachers respond by phone and we confirm schedules via fax.
The EcoTeam schedule must fit the needs of the classroom teacher(s) and the reality of your time as college students. One of the most damaging things that can happen to your program is cancelled lessons that result from overzealous scheduling. Again, we emphasize the importance of being realistic for the sustainability of the program and your personal sustainability.
· D. Developing an evaluation piece
The future of the EcoTeam depends on your ability to quantify measurable outcomes for your target audiences: (1) elementary students (2) pre-service educators. It is easy to overlook this in the excitement of building your kit and eventually teaching lessons. However, incorporating evaluation tools into your EcoTeam is one of the most important components of your program planning.
Depending on your source of funding, you may be asked to demonstrate different outcomes. The EcoTeam Director can aid you in developing an evaluation instrument.
· E. Checking in with the EcoTeam Director
We recommend that you contact the ELC Education Director as you begin the process of developing EcoTeam at your school. As you continue, the director will be available to help you overcome any road blocks to create a successful program. Before your program is launched, we will schedule a phone or conference call for you to check in, and for us to ask you a few questions about the program. We look forward to hearing from you.
Return to Top
©Environmental Leadership Center of Warren Wilson College 2004