This is an endeavor to shed light on the amazing work of people from different cultures and background in the environmental movement.
In my program, I used the Eco-Heroes to go along with each unit- George Washington Carver for plants, Jane Goodall for Wildlife, Rachel Carson for Water, etc. They were not necessarily incorporated into the units each time, but posted on the wall as alternative faces to the ones typically seen in the narrative of environmentalism. I created posters for each hero and presented them to the kids, then kept adding to the display as the year progressed.
A few examples of the posters I created are:
I understand that I did not “discover” these people, and some kids might have been aware of the incredible work they have been doing. However, I feel it is still important to acknowledge environmental advocates and scientists that do not necessarily get the same recognition in textbooks as John Muir and Aldo Leopold.
I believe that this endeavor was helpful for the kids in that they had a chance to see themselves in the posters. Each Eco-Hero had a different area of study and looked a different way. My hope was for the kids to be inspired by the people they saw shaping history and be more likely to want to make a difference. I know that they paid attention to the Eco-Heroes because they would get on my case if I didn’t change the poster at the end of each month. We also had some great discussions about the heroes, especially Wangari Maathai. After watching her story, “I will be a Hummingbird” on YouTube, I asked the kids, “What did you take from this video?” They gave responses like “It means even little things can help”, and “We can all make a difference”. It was really inspiring to see the kids so excited about conservation (we were talking about reusing and recycling that day) and to see them look up to an amazing person they did not know of before.