Ladera Vista Junior High students tour Arboretum for Earth Day sustainability event

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CSUF hosted an Earth Day event Wednesday for students from local junior high school Ladera Vista, offering a series of demonstrations and guided tours through the arboretum.

“If you catch (the junior high students) now, and you still can, they’re more likely to be engaged in saving our planet as adults. If they persist with this attitude of ‘Leave it on the ground. Step on it. Who cares?’ through high school, (it’s) much more difficult to change their attitudes and behavior,” said Sara Johnson, a tour guide and anthropology department faculty member.

The students were divided into smaller groups which rotated between the ecological “biomes” in the arboretum. Johnson quizzed the students at each stop to teach them about topics like the California poppy, the state flower.

The event was coordinated by anthropology professor and director of the Center for Sustainability John Bock, who has run campus Earth Week events for nine years.

He gave the Ladera Vista students a pre-assessment of environmental literacy standards and a post-assessment after the arboretum tour ended, Bock said.

Bock said Kimberly Gibson, a student in his master’s of environmental studies class, came up with the idea after finding an interest in the environmental literacy of junior high students. He said Gibson mentored four of his students to help create the exhibits and the arboretum offered support by tailoring the tours to the same topics.

The exhibits featured were handled by Bock’s Chemistry 492 sustainability projects class and designed to reflect the new generation of science standards, Bock said.

One of the exhibits involved giving the students balloons to play with in an experiment that they could keep after it was done. Johnson said the demonstration also offered a second purpose.

“(We need) to say, ‘We got to take care of our Earth, it’s Earth Week.’ For some kids that resonates and they are quick to (pick the balloons up) themselves, they don’t need a friendly reminder. For others, it’s showing you an attitude that’s developing early of ‘Who cares? I don’t look cool if I bend over and pick that up. I want to show everybody I’m going to leave that on the ground,’” Johnson said.

The event also showcased five solar-powered cooking apparatuses brought by retired diplomat and solar-cooking technology expert Pat McArdle. McArdle said she is a supporter for solar-cooking, especially in third-world countries because there are still 3 billion people that cook over an open flame.

Students asked questions regarding the various cooking speeds and effectiveness. One example McArdle used was a group of women she met from Nicaragua who use a solar box cooker to run a bakery with no fuel.

“In Orange County, you look at which events were posted and it is Cal State Fullerton who did one of the biggest Earth Weeks,” Johnson said. “This year, we are getting a lot of attention for Earth Week.”

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