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Two of our members volunteer every week at a transitional homeless shelter for women with children. We play games like basketball, baseball, puzzles, coloring and singing, and we do crafts every week with the kids. Most recently, we made a balloon man with balloons, markers and construction paper and also decorated picture frames for the kids to decorate their apartments with.
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Our Roots & Shoots group primarily works through visiting local 3rd grade classrooms. We use the EcoTeam curriculum, along with the Roots & Shoots service projects that go with it, to educate the kids about, and get them involved in helping animals, the environment, and their community! Our group is made up of graduate and post-doctoral students at Emory University and running these groups is great not only for the 3rd graders, but also for us! We visit our classes every other week throughout the school year, so we really get to know the kids. We love teaching them about the environment and we love learning fun new stuff from them as well! For any group looking to get involved, this is a great way to do it! The impact of the few hours you give goes beyond just the 15 students in the class you work with, as they share what they learned with the whole school, with their parents and with their friends!
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With Scout Troop 209, my brother Gerhard and I went to the Moose Research Center in Kenai. There we worked on Moose Habitat Improvement for the 28 resident "wild" moose. We cut down young Aspen for the moose to eat. We also cleared and fixed a fence. The highlight was that we got to scratch moose behind the ears - without a fence between us.
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This is the initiation of a new community service project designed for middle school eighth graders. Middle school students will join a cadre of students who are transported by parents or as a group by a minimum of two approved and assigned parents to elementary schools to present the story of Snooter (the Free Spay and Neuter Program, Inc. mascot) to third grade classes as part of the literature, social and Character Counts! curriculum. The exercise requires about 15 minutes per class with introduction and reading of The Adventures of Snooter publication by Vanessa C. Bryce. The objectives are one) to provide an awareness of the need for spaying and neutering of companion animals, two) interest elementary and middle school students in becoming proactive by creating support for community service and making a difference, three) initiate an understanding of pet care and management, four) create an interesting learning environment for elementary students and lastly, provide community involvement opportunities for middle school students coupled with appropriate grade level activities.
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Coastal Cleanup Day is a worldwide event on the third Saturday of September. When we found out that most of the ocean trash comes from inland waterways, we started cleanups in Shasta County and Cottonwood Creek Watershed in Tehama County, both in California. This was our fourth time coordinating this event. We had four Roots & Shoots team captains. Each year we get a few more volunteers. This year was amazing because the school that usually volunteers closed, yet we had more volunteers than ever. The media only brings in a handful of volunteers. Most of them come from groups like boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, 4H, key clubs and other youth community service groups.
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We met with an energy analyst from our local electric company to learn about electric energy conservation and safety. He led a discussion about these two topics and then we did an activity. Each participating family brought 3 electric devices. We pretended tables around the room were the rooms of a mock home. Each room (table) had the relevant appliances on it and were plugged in. Kids predicted which devices used the most energy in each room. We used energy monitoring devices (available through the library) to measure the energy hogs in each room and compare to the predictions. The kids then practiced energy conservation by walking from room to room, using the devices and unplugging or turning off when they are done or leave. Each family went home with a care package from the electric company containing fluorescent bulbs, rebate coupons and info about special conservation and electricity programs available at low cost.
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Kids collected unneeded cell phones, batteries, chargers, ear pieces, etc. and turned them in to be recycled by Collective Good. Collective Good's donations were made to the Grameen Foundation's microloans which help women in poor countries start businesses and achieve self sufficiency. We collected 24 phones plus accessories. Most folks told us that they turned their old phones in at the store where they purchased their new phones. The kids have liked this project so much, that we have turned it into an ongoing project. We send several cell phone shipments to Collective Good throughout the school year.
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We made folding solar ovens out of cardboard and aluminum foil. I made a pattern out of brown paper so kids just traced, cut cardboard, made fold creases and glued aluminum foil down. It still took over an hour. Kids had a good time and we hope to cook our meals for a camping trip later in the fall. We made Cookit solar ovens as described at http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Cookit.
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The whole school has been involved with folding 1000 paper cranes and preparing a peace ceremony for the UN International Day of Peace. We were inspired by Jane Goodall's urging to celebrate Peace Day. We felt this is a doable project that could be accomplished during the busy first few weeks of the school year. We chose to use recycled paper as an earth-friendly alternative to new paper. We strung the cranes in strands of ten with embroidery thread. We threaded a piece of drinking straw between each crane so that the younger children would not have to tie knots.
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Beginning in March of 2007, our group chose to learn about flying birds, mammals and insects over the summer. Beginning with birds, our first project was to make bird houses. Four of the houses were confirmed to be successfully nested-in through the summer. The second section, also involving birds, included our service project for the summer. Living in Colorado, our wildlife is abundant and often in conflict with humans. I knew of a local rescue called the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program that rescues and rehabilitates, if possible, raptors injured in our area. First, I scheduled an educational experience with the Program. Second, our kids made posters requesting donations for the center that were distributed with boxes throughout our community to collect much needed supplies for the center. Third, the boxes were collected and supplies were taken with our group to the Raptor Program on the day of our presentation. Not only did the children provide the supplies, but the money donated for the field trip will be used by the Program for continued operations. The children also discussed the concepts of reduce, reuse and recycle with the instructor and saw the "landfill graveyard" used as a teaching tool by the Program. We finished the summer on insects and planted butterfly gardens with the help of our local nursery. We took a field trip to the Denver Butterfly Pavilion where we learned about and handled insects from tarantulas to hissing cockroaches and finished with watching the release of many newly emerged butterflies. It was the first time for several of the children to have visited the Pavilion.

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