For a moment, the Waunakee Rotary Club was asked to imagine what, ideally, their community would look like in 30 years.
Julie Jarvis of Sustain Dane was the speaker at the Sept. 8 meeting, and she said her organization is constantly talking about this – improving the community to make it a just economy and a healthy planet.
Her job as a coach is to empower and connect sustainability champions, Julie said, including one who helped start a recycling and composting program in her school. Another hosted a workshop for people within environmental organizations to address social issues.
Julie works in the schools. She recalled a tree assembly at Sandburg Elementary School in Madison a little over a year ago, where students gathered to celebrate their schools’ new outdoor classroom.
More than 400 students attended the school’s assembly for the outdoor learning space, which also includes a stage.
”We learned about and celebrated the trees. We were strengthening relationships and building student leaders,” Julee said, adding that the program was students-led.
“They were experiencing joy,” she said, made evident by the students’ spontaneous dance celebration at the end of it.
The outdoor classroom providing Sandburg students more space for learning, and it received funds from Sustain Dane.
Another outdoor classroom that received Sustain Dane funds can be found at Prairie Elementary School in Waunakee, where two teachers have collaborated on a garden that provides hands-on learning and connects students.
“Not only is it a powerful experience in academic learning but in belonging,” Julie said.
After students in Denise Fassbender’s class planted seeds last spring, one who had hardly spoken or smiled the entire year opened up to Denise.
Funds for these programs are provided by Sustain Dane and the Green and Healthy School program. Sustain Dane also supports sustainable building practices that foster a healthy environment, Julie said. And Sustain Dane offers programs for businesses, schools and neighborhoods.