Local non-profit encourages kids to Sprout Up

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In today’s age of technology, its likely that a child in elementary school would be more concerned with the preservation of their Angry Birds score on their mother’s iPhone than the preservation of real birds in their community. In fact, the concepts of preservation and sustainability rarely cross the minds of modern children, except perhaps in a few lessons about the environment and recycling during their science units. Fortunately, Sprout Up – a local non-profit organization – is bringing environmental education to our young ones, and giving them the credit that they deserve.

As stated on their website, “Kids can do more than we think. They can solve problems creatively, they can think intelligently and they can explore the world with genuine curiosity.”

Dani Ziff, Sprout Up’s Regional Advisor explains, “We hope that by inspiring kids to love learning and respect the world we live in, that they will feel empowered to change it for the better.”

With this in mind, Sprout Up aims to provide fun and educational lessons to help children appreciate the environment and understand what they can do to help sustain it.

The Sprout Up program is available for first and second grade classrooms, as well as outside the classroom. The introductory first grade program exposes children to the importance of nature and the world around them, while the second grade program teaches them how to apply their new found appreciation to care for the environment. The take-home program, cleverly coined “Second Nature,” involves activities for parents and children that build upon classroom lessons.

Through a connection with other subjects like math and music, the Sprout Up Nature Team leads lessons with enthusiasm and instills a genuine passion for the environment within their students. At the beginning of the program, the Nature Team encourages students to come up with their own nature-themed nicknames, which vary from “Butterfly” to “Shark.” Various inspirational stories and blog posts track the progress of the team and their students, including the story of “Spider,” a fearless first-grader with a passion for “creepy-crawly critters.” For more stories, see the Sprout Up journal

Wherever there are people passionate about the environment, there is a potential for a Sprout Up community. The Sprout Up Nature Team is comprised of current and former college students, with disciplines ranging from Education to Dance to Aquatic Biology. The program currently operates in various elementary schools in Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, and Davis.

“As long as we see an enthusiasm for life, a passion for the environment, and a desire to make change in our teammates, we are happy,” Ziff added. Potential Nature Team members can apply for an instructor position or internship, at any of the chapter campuses, through the Sprout Up website. Parents and teachers who want their children involved in the program can also visit the website and request more information.

If you want to get a taste of the program, the organization will be running the Kid’s Corner at the Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival at Alameda Park April 20-21. Ziff hopes that this event will attract members of the community and expose them to the benefits of the program.

Like all non-profit organizations, Sprout Up is always looking for volunteers and generous donors. If you are interested in donating, please visit their website, and click the conveniently located “Quick Donate” link at the top right of their homepage. You can also contribute by purchasing various levels of membership, which provide anything from one child’s lesson to the funding of an eight week program for an entire class.

Sprout Up is also hosting their 2nd Annual “Investing in Our Youth” Gala and Auction at Chase Palm Park on May 11. Information about the gala and RSVP link can be found here:

http://sproutup.org/journal_post/we-hope-to-see-you-there/

For more information about getting involved in Sprout Up, visit http://sproutup.org, or e-mail info@sproutup.org.

Megan Gibbs

Megan is a senior at UCSB studying Communication and Spanish. When she's not in class or working at the Alumni Association, she is often performing with her a cappella group, baking cupcakes, or soaking up the sun on the beautiful beaches of Isla Vista!
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