Leading A School Sustainability Group

Greenhouse Mural

School environmental groups empower students to create change in their community. When surrounded by a group of peers that are also passionate about sustainability, students can both learn from and teach each other, while making a greater impact.

After leading an environmental group at our high school last year, here are our key takeaways and tips that were most helpful for us. 

1. Create a vision.
Begin your first meeting by letting everybody share why they care about sustainability. Using those responses, decide what your goals for the year are. Once you know what you want to accomplish, make a step by step plan that will help you achieve your goals. Have these goals available so you can reference them throughout the year. 
2. Come to meetings prepared. 
We did this by planning an agenda ahead of time. We would email our plan to the group a few days before our meeting so that they could be prepared for a discussion.
3. Involve every member.
While everyone in our group was passionate about sustainability, each of us had individual interests (i.e. sustainable fashion, the farm-to-table process, gardening, and sustainable economics). While some projects required all of us to work together, we also encouraged group members to take on smaller initiatives that aligned with their interests. Our group made more of an impact in the community this way.
4. Promote your activities in the broader community.
Some ways to do this are by creating a newsletter, posting on a bulletin board or website, and making announcements during community gatherings. It is nice for the community to be aware of your goals and celebrate your accomplishments. Community members will be more likely to attend your events if they are often reminded of what you are hosting.
5. Partner with other clubs/groups in your school. 
Collaborating with other school groups helped grow our presence in the community. We partnered with the ‘Arts Board’ to paint a mural in the school greenhouse. You can partner with sports teams to discuss reusable water bottles, service groups to host a park cleanup initiative, or a student health group to talk about the intersection between health and sustainability.
6. Host school-wide events centered around sustainability. 
A few events we held this year included clothing swaps, a movie screening and planting activity, and hosting a speaker from a local environmental organization. While planning events are a lot of work, they are also a great way to get the community involved. In the weeks leading up to the event, make sure you share details and give people an incentive to attend. 
These tips were useful for us and we hope you gained insight from them, but remember that you should lead your group in whatever way feels right to you. The most important part is that you are passionate about what you are doing!

If you have any questions or want to talk about how to lead a group, feel free to reach out to us.

Robyn Landes and Courtney Horner

Posted by Courtney Horner on Oct 14, 2020 9:24 AM America/Chicago

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