Get2Green Leader Enjoys All the Possibilities of Connecting Students with Nature

By Office of Communications
Employee News
April 22, 2024

Erika Thompson has always loved spending time outside and growing plants. As an advanced academic resource teacher at Forest Edge Elementary School, she has found a way to combine that interest with her role as an educator through Get2Green

Last year, Forest Edge staff finalized plans to create an outdoor classroom and garden space, a space made possible by the PTA. Erika was asked by her administrators if she would help lead a team of teachers in this project. In October, volunteers assembled garden beds, storage sheds, and convertible benches for outdoor learning. 

“It was exciting to picture what this would bring to Forest Edge for our students, families, and staff,” Erika said. “When I was asked during the summer to become the Get2Green leader, I thought of all the possibilities for outdoor learning, growing plants, and becoming more connected with nature.”

 As a Get2Green leader, Erika has had access to resources to learn more about reducing waste, recycling, composting, and helping the school become more eco-friendly. The Get2Green leader position is new this year and was created to incentivize teachers to develop a culture of sustainability and student-led environmental action at all schools. Erika has formed a green team, led classes in green activities, and started a Green Team after-school club for fifth and sixth graders. 

a young student waters a garden with a watering can“My most inspiring moment has been seeing our Forest Edge students’ smiling faces as they plant, water, and interact with nature,” Erika said. 

Students have planted marigolds, carrots, lettuce, and peas. “One student even shared, ‘This is the first time I’ve ever planted a seed!’ while skipping out to the garden,” she said. “They have loved watering the garden beds, using trowels to loosen the soil, and observing nature with magnifying glasses. Students are also really excited at the prospect of eating the carrots, lettuce, and peas after they grow.”

two students work to build a structure out of three bamboo poles

In addition to working in the garden, sixth graders recently completed a STEM activity to build bamboo trellises for sugar snap peas. “They collaborated to plan, design, and build their trellises and then place them into the garden beds,” Erika said. “They enjoyed building something that will have a lasting impact on our garden.” 

The Green Team is working to also beautify the school. After removing leaves and debris from garden beds in front of the school, they plan to plant annual flowers and perennial bulbs, as well as flowers and shrubs native to the area. 

“Our Green Team will also set up different bird feeders for our schoolyard birds,” she added. “This May, we also plan to have our kindergartners plant pumpkin seeds. We will harvest them with next year’s kindergarteners. We will also connect with our families to see what types of vegetables and herbs are grown in their home countries. We have so many fun plans to look forward to!”