LAKEWOOD RANCH — As Nolan Middle School seventh-grader Vallencia Satira would tell you, thinking “green” doesn’t mean you have to get solar panels installed on your roof.
The important thing, she said, is to do what you can, in whatever capacity.
During the last six years, Satira and other members of Nolan’s Green Team have been working to generate environmental awareness on campus, starting recycling and other programs. But now, the group is ready to host its first official community outreach.
The group will host Nolan’s Naturalist Night Out from 7-8 p.m., Oct. 26, in the school’s cafeteria, 6615 Greenbrook Blvd., Lakewood Ranch. Guest speaker Bob Egolf, a master gardner and master naturalist, will discuss native Florida plants and invasive species.
“We wanted to get the community involved,” Satira said of the group’s efforts. “We can live in a better society, and everyone can pitch in. We can change our recycling ways.”
Green Team seventh-grader Caeli Cormier agreed, noting sometimes people just don’t know what they can do to be more environmentally-minded, and forums like the Naturalist Night Out will point them in the right direction.
“It’s important for us to help people understand (what they can do),” Cormier said.
The workshop will be the first in a series of two — possibly three — events organizers hope to hold this school year.
Green Team sponsor Carrie Rainwater said she came up with the idea for Naturalist Night Out after taking the Florida Master Naturalist Program classes last year. Through the classes, Rainwater met people in the community who were experts in various aspects of the environment and learned about other programs in the area.
“It’s an untapped resource,” she said. “There’re lots of resources here in Manatee County. We just have to reach out and coordinate our efforts.”
Members of the Green Team said they are committed to continuing to educate their classmates and teachers about helping the environment and are planning an old cell phone collection in November. As a culmination of the drive, Rainwater said she hopes to coordinate with Manatee County to hold an e-waste pickup day at Nolan, where East County residents will be able to dispose of old computers and other technologies.
The Green Team also is working to purchase plastic Nolan-logo cups that students can bring to class instead of disposable water bottles.
“We’re trying to encourage students to quit using things that are pre-packaged,” Rainwater said.
Nolan’s Green Team started four years ago with only six students. Since then, the group has grown to about 25 students, who have focused on recycling efforts at the school. Last year, the group began working with community businesses to offer incentives to students and staff who demonstrated “green” initiatives as a way to encourage recycling efforts.
Last school year, Nolan also was the first school in the county to obtain and use a thermal compactor, a solar-powered device that can compact up to 700 Styrofoam lunch trays into a cube that is 1.5 feet long and 6 inches wide.
Contact Pam Eubanks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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