Meiners Oaks Elementary, a distinguished Green Ribbon School, gave us most of the day to workshop with their 6th grade leadership team. We found out the basis for who can be on the leadership team was the opposite of how most schools gauge the competency and success of students. Any student interested in being on the leadership team has to write about why they want to be involved. The students are chosen to be a part of the team based on their passion and enthusiasm and not on their grades. This was a bonus for us because the leadership team just so happened to be focusing on sustainability themed projects the last few years. For example, the previous leadership team made a short film about how they decided to send all of their lunch leftovers to a commercial composting service in the area helping them divert 60% of their waste from the landfill. The school also puts a lot of focus on recycling, and they even have a student run recycling team who thoroughly sort out the bins everyday.
The school has been working closely with a few other organizations in Ojai such as Food for Thought, a non-profit that helps install and maintain gardens in school grounds. And then there's Once Upon a Watershed - an organization that helps promote future stewards through outdoor education connecting the students to their local watershed. We had the pleasure of following a couple other educators around for the day in the land preserve directly behind the school teaching the students through nature observation and finishing with some native tree planting.