UT Elementary: Educating Tomorrow’s Environmental Leaders

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 3:24pm

By Andrew Gansky, Event & Development Assistant

University of Texas Elementary, a charter school that serves as an extension of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of Keep Austin Beautiful’s most passionate school partners. Over the past four years, the school has participated in two in-class education programs, Generation Zero and Clean Creek Campus. The school’s first and third graders have explored what it means to recycle and compost properly through our Generation Zero curriculum. Teacher Molly Kelly reports that her students were particularly excited by taking care of the worm “pets” in their classroom compost bin, and that she and her class consistently used songs and interactive activities to review recycling facts. UT Elementary’s second and fifth graders have gotten a hands-on approach to cleaning up Austin’s watershed through our Clean Creek Campus program. It was the teachers’ idea to pair students from different age ranges for the Clean Creek Campus activities, which they say has helped build a greater sense of community in the school. Through Keep Austin Beautiful programming, students have carried out over 900 hours of service at Ladybird Lake, planting more than 3,000 native wildflower seedballs and collecting 200 pounds of trash and 58 pounds of recycling.

Beyond their engagement with Keep Austin Beautiful, each grade also participates in independent environmental stewardship. Second graders study aquatic habitats and end with a field trip to McKinney Falls State Park to become certified anglers. Third graders create informational campaigns for the rest of the school about how and where to recycle and compost. Fifth graders explore water conservation through the context of science and wellness, which last year culminated in a Walk for Water Campaign that raised enough money to build a well in an African village. Every grade helps maintain the school garden, where some of the herbs are sold at a local farmer’s market.

The teachers at UT Elementary cast a wide net to connect all their students to the environment, and coordinate numerous projects that keep Austin a beautiful place to live. We’re thrilled to work with a school so committed to instilling a strong sense of environmental stewardship from a young age. The staff and students have shown incredible commitment to environmental stewardship, and we are excited to recognize the school’s teachers and students with the 2017 Applied Materials Education Award.

Join us in honoring UT Elementary School alongside Keep Austin Beautiful’s other 2017 awardees at the Beautify Bash, taking place at Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum on Thursday, November 16, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more info and tickets, please visit keepaustinbeautiful.org/beautifybash.