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Our Roots & Shoots club is very young (ages 5-10years, the average age is about 7), so they often team up with our older youth club to work with them on community service and fundraising projects. This also gives our older kids (Junior Eoclogists) a chance to mentor our younger kids. Our 3 goals for this project were: to provide the homeless children with some new items during the holidays, to give the kids a better understanding of what it means to be homeless, and for the kids to gain an appreciation for what they have. Beginning in November, the kids were given a goal to bring in 3 items per child to donate to our local PADS organization - an organization designed to help the homless in our area. We talked about what it means to be homeless and the things that the kids in our Roots & Shoots club have that they may take for granted. They were given a list of acceptable items to bring in (coloring books, puzzels, etc). By the middle of December we had $200 worth of donated items. The best part of the whole project was that we made some fliers to post around our nature center to encourage the public to help the Roots & Shoots kids with thier project - and it worked!
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The Winter Bird Count is hosted by our local Audubon Chapter. Bird Counts occur twice a year, once in winter and once in Sping. The goal was to provide the kids with an idea of how birds survive during the winter, as well as some basic bird identification and monitoring skills. Since the Winter Bird Count is a yearly Audubon project, we have been doing it annually for a few years now.
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This project took place during this past summer in Portugal. Around my area, the forests have all but withered away. Unfortunately, nearby factories and power lines have caused the trees to obatain a type of cancer. I fear that the forests will become extinct, along with their wildlife. It hurts so much to lose something you love... like nature. But this experience has only made me srtonger. I am determined to help the forests in Portugal and all around the world! I ventured into the dying forests and observed everything. From the tallest tree, to the smallest hole. I found that life still abounds, but in small quantities. Praying manti still exsist, though in extremely and alarmingly low numbers. Swallows fly above, while mice and VERY few snakes rarely pass through, feeding on them. Two years ago, foxes actaully lived right across the street from me. But now, this summer, I realized they had died off. A horrible event! I am sad. I wish mankind did not act this way...but we must live with our mistakes. But we can turn around and overcome our savageness and restore to the earth what we have taken from it...nature.
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For our kickoff project we created magazine bowls as a fundraiser. The materials were very inexpensive, and the kids from age 8 could handle the project. The group made approx. 30 bowls and they were sold at a holiday craft sale in the community. We learned about recycling and reusing materials. Old catalogs and thin magazine stock work best.
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Backyard harvest is a food bank, where we harvested zuchinis and tomatoes. We went to a lady named Amy Gray's house. We harvested the vegetables and gave them to the food bank.
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We planted wetland plants in the Lena Whitmore outdoor classroom.
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We sent out "Trick or Treat for UNICEF" boxes while Trick or Treating on Halloween.
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I am an international volunteer in Tanzania and have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to Lugufu Refugee camp to visit the Roots & Shoots club there. I wanted to organize a miniature partnership in understanding before I visited the club, so I contacted Mwalimu Nyerere Primary School in Dar es Salaam. I knew the club at Nyerere was keen on conducting a community project; together we decided that club members could make rag balls and posters with environmental messages on them for the kids at the refugee camp. They produced four balls and five large posters. In return I organized for the club members in the camp to write either their stories of how they ended up in the camp or stories about the environment and their experiences with R&S. The kids in the camp were thrilled with the balls and were excited about the prospect of sharing their stories with kids in Dar. Thirty kids participated, writing thoughtful letters to their peers, as well as drawing pictures of their local environment to share. I copied these stories and letters so other R&S clubs could benefit from them as well. Some of the children really opened up about the violence they experienced before arriving at the camp, but their messages were filled with hope for the future. The kids in Dar were touched by the time, emotion, and thought that went into the letters and stories. The project meant a lot to the kids in the refugee camp that children so far away were interested in them; too often they feel left out and forgotten in a country that is not their own. The kids in Dar gained some perspective about the plight of others, learning simultaneously how different and how similar their lives are to the lives of the children in the camp.
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The purpose of this campaign was to reduce the amount of bottled water sold on our campus. The campaign had 2 components: education and selling reusable bottles. To educate our student body, we created and displayed signs around the building providing facts about the effects of bottled water on the environment. We also made a presentation to the student body during assembly. During the 4 days following the sale we sold reusable plastic #2 Nalgene bottles to students and faculty. Sharpie markers were made available so students could decorate and personalize their bottles. The bottles are now continuing to be sold in the school store. Students are encouraged to fill up at home and or school, and are permitted to carry water with them to class.
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Subsequent to our first meeting, we had three writing assignments, two for the children and one for the parents in our Family Journals. We focused on "What is change?" and "How can we make a difference?" We all brainstormed and came up with three projects. Our first project was a math session to figure out the proportions necessary to mix and bottle eco-friendly cleaning products. We asked for parent donations in return for our eco-friendly cleaning solutions. This and our other two projects raised $182!

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