May 12, 2014 by k12serviceinitiative
For some, the concern for wildlife seems peripheral; other needs must come first. This perspective would seem a blind spot to those who champion endangered species as one of many primary issues we must address as a people – a people capable of understanding the interwoven connections that make the whole of our world work.
At present we vie among ourselves for causes, for resources and attention. A K-12 service initiative would resolve this disorganized competition for our support. We can draw our humanitarian and environmental problem solving into an overview with specific categories, allowing us to work more effectively, share approaches, and track outcomes. The beauty of a K-12 service initiative is that it would place this work in our system of education – where it belongs – providing the real world involvement our youth so desperately need, demonstrating real-life relevance of education.
A nationwide service curriculum would divide into topic areas that are not only introduced at each grade level K – 6, but involve our youngest in managing the community checklist of projects for their grade level topic, providing leadership roles and exposure to all work in their topic area. Students would build relationships nationwide with their peers as they progress together from grade to grade, topic area to topic area, coming to know themselves as a nationwide graduating class.
The service topic of endangered species and wildlife would be aligned with kindergarten. Caring for Animals, a year-long service learning project brings our youngest into regular contact with their local humane society, working to address needs at the local level. Beyond their service project, they would manage the community checklist of service work related to animals. Older students in classes with helpful academic overlaps, community members, and staff of the humane society would check-in with kindergarteners to help update the checklist of work in the community in this area. In addition to local work, each school system could adopt an endangered species to support, working with the appropriate national organizations committed to this environmental topic area.
Kindergarteners seem so small and incapable of real world contribution, and yet they represent the beginning, the beginning of a foundation. As they grow and engage in more service topic areas of leadership, they will come to know how they can continue to contribute as older students, as adult community members. They will see opportunities to continue our forward progression to meet the challenges we face.
It would be so easy to help our endangered species and care for our wildlife with our true wealth – ourselves, our knowledge, our intelligence, our energy, inspiration, and caring. Our youth are ready and eager for the opportunity to take the lead in each and every area of challenge and problem solving. Let’s give them the leadership roles they deserve and build forward with them – all of them – our youth nationwide and worldwide. They can take the lead and carry us forward into wide scale solution making with all the resources at hand to make it happen.