On a Friday in May, 20
second-graders and five UC Santa Barbara


and five UC Santa Barbara students sat clustered on the floor of Susi Stanfield's classroom at Foothill Elementary where they were discussing how they pack their lunches.


The UC Santa Barbara students were visiting the class as instructors for the Environmental Education for the Next Generation, or EENG, program. They talked about lunchboxes versus paper bags and plastic containers versus disposable bags to frame a conversation about reusing supplies to reduce waste.

EENG offers first- and second-grade teachers up to 12 45-minute Earth-friendly lesson plans, which volunteer students teach.

In the summer of 2009, second-year environmental science major Ryland King founded EENG as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It grew out of an Environmental Affairs Board program started a UC Santa Barbara in 2006, which brought environmental instruction to Isla Vista School.

King, EENG’s executive director, said the 501(c)(3) status gave the program additional legitimacy, which enabled it to expand to more classrooms this year and secure a $2,320 grant from The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Youth Making Change initiative.

The grant will be used for classroom supplies, volunteer operations and a director stipend for King. The volunteers are unpaid, but King said the program has a surplus of people who want to help.

As an environmentalist and an entrepreneur, King’s vision doesn’t stop there. After graduation, he plans to maintain his role as executive director of EENG and expand the program to other universities in Southern California.

EENG’s director of operations, environmental studies and global studies major Tanya Heravian, said the program is working. “It's a youth-to-youth type of mentorship, where the kids truly want to listen to us,” she said.

The UC Santa Barbara instructors also keep the lessons active and fun. During environmental stretching at Foothill Elementary, kids reach to the sky like a tree toward the sun and then expand their arms out to the side mimicking solar panels.

“How much energy can you get from the sun right now?” instructor Michael Cohen asked them.

Education experts have helped EENG’s efforts with developing curriculum and marketing the program to teachers.

King said Deborah Katzburg of Adams Elementary School contributed to the first eight lesson plans that EENG developed. He credits Dr. Cynthia White, director of curriculum and categorical programs of the Santa Barbara School Districts, with helping EENG align its lesson plans with the California State Board of Education’s Content Standards.

UC Santa Barbara instructors Susan Johnson and Bridget Lewin are also important supporters of the program. But the in-classroom work is reserved for UC Santa Barbara students – EENG’s 23 volunteers and five directors.

The UC Santa Barbara students were visiting the class as instructors for the Environmental Education for the Next Generation, or EENG, program. They talked about lunchboxes versus paper bags and plastic containers versus disposable bags to frame a conversation about reusing supplies to reduce waste.

EENG offers first- and second-grade teachers up to 12 45-minute Earth-friendly lesson plans, which volunteer students teach.

In the summer of 2009, second-year environmental science major Ryland King founded EENG as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

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It grew out of an Environmental Affairs Board program started a UC Santa Barbara in 2006, which brought environmental instruction to Isla Vista School.

King, EENG’s executive director, said the 501(c)(3) status gave the program additional legitimacy, which enabled it to expand to more classrooms this year and secure a $2,320 grant from The Fund for Santa Barbara’s Youth Making Change initiative.

The grant will be used for classroom supplies, volunteer operations and a director stipend for King. The volunteers are unpaid, but King said the program has a surplus of people who want to help.

Pent-up volunteer interest will be critical if EENG achieves its goal of teaching in two-thirds of the schools in Santa Barbara County next year. About a dozen elementary school classrooms currently participate in EENG. With additional funding, the program will add field trips to the coursework – like visits to Fairview Gardens or tide pools at El Capitan State Beach.

As an environmentalist and an entrepreneur, King’s vision doesn’t stop there. After graduation, he plans to maintain his role as executive director of EENG and expand the program to other universities in Southern California.

EENG’s director of operations, environmental studies and global studies major Tanya Heravian, said the program is working. “It's a youth-to-youth type of mentorship, where the kids truly want to listen to us,” she said.

The UC Santa Barbara instructors also keep the lessons active and fun. During environmental stretching at Foothill Elementary, kids reach to the sky like a tree toward the sun and then expand their arms out to the side mimicking solar panels.

“How much energy can you get from the sun right now?” instructor Michael Cohen asked them.

Education experts have helped EENG’s efforts with developing curriculum and marketing the program to teachers.

King said Deborah Katzburg of Adams Elementary School contributed to the first eight lesson plans that EENG developed. He credits Dr. Cynthia White, director of curriculum and categorical programs of the Santa Barbara School Districts, with helping EENG align its lesson plans with the California State Board of Education’s Content Standards.

UC Santa Barbara instructors Susan Johnson and Bridget Lewin are also important supporters of the program. But the in-classroom work is reserved for UC Santa Barbara students – EENG’s 23 volunteers and five directors.

In Stanfield’s class, the children were a chorus of “no,” “aww man” and other disappointed sighs when told that it was the last lesson with their UC Santa Barbara friends.

As they were saying goodbye and giving parting high-fives, the instructors, who had used nature names like Goldie, Dragonfly, Quail and Sequoia during the classes, offered to share their real names. The children were eager for the big reveal and gave their instructors stacks of thank you cards as they left.

“I had lots of fun with you and you are very funny and nice and awesome. And I will remember about the Earth,” wrote one student.

“I am going to miss you,” wrote another. “I like when we made the bags. I am not going to use plastic bags any more.”

Those are the reactions EENG aspires to. “We want to instill an environmental ethic in the youth and get that sense of nature appreciation back into our kids in the schools,” King said. “A lot of times kids are growing up in the concrete jungle. … We try to make the outdoors fun and enjoyable again.”

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