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Celebrating Earth Day? In Scripps Ranch, It’s Elementary

Evening Edition

Above: San Diego’s school kids are learning environmental sustainability with their social studies and recycling with their arithmetic. KPBS reporter Brooke Binkowski has more from Dingeman Elementary in Scripps Ranch.

This Earth Day, some elementary school students in San Diego learned recycling with their reading and environmental sustainability with their social studies.

At Dingeman Elementary School in Scripps Ranch, Earth Day included visitors from the San Diego Zoo to talk about endangered species and conservation, singing, art projects and a special guest from the city of San Diego: a larger-than-life recycling bin mascot named “Bonita Blue Bin.” Young children, dressed mostly in green, lined up to drink smoothies made from all-organic ingredients and munch on leaves of hydroponically grown spinach.

But these lessons aren't necessarily just reserved for Earth Day. Dingeman Elementary also has a “green team” program that teaches both children and adults about environmental responsibility whenever school is in session.

Sara Church, a third-grade teacher at Dingeman, created the school's green team in 2012. Their motto is “Kids Can Make a Difference.”

“Since then, for the last three years, that's what our role has been on campus is to make a difference in the world,” Church said. “Every day, my students go to all the buildings and classrooms here on campus, they collected the recycled, they go with a little data keeper so they can record whose, which classroom's recycling more and less and they give tips on how to help that."

Principal Kimie Lochtefeld said that their Earth Day activities included a strong food component, in order to show that locally grown and organic food can be an ideal alternative to meals that have been shipped and processed.

“We have several different demonstrations, a farm to table demonstration with our school district, highlighting all the organic produce so that students can make healthy smoothies and learn about healthy eating habits,” Lochtefeld said. “We also have a hydroponics station where students can see methods for growing food.”

Church said a love for environmentalism has been a big part of her life for decades, and she hopes to pass that along to the next generation.

“This has always been my passion. I've been recycling since 1979, and our earth is just so beautiful with all of nature's gifts. And so I really try to instill that passion in my students, because they care about the earth and they truly understand that their actions now will affect the future of this world, and that they want to leave it for their children's children the way that they found it," Church said.

Dingeman Elementary aims to become a zero-waste and zero-emissions school through the efforts of students, staff and volunteers.

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