Tracy Vlnicka is a Denver University student who has been working with the FrontRange Earth Force Youth Advisory Board (YAB) on a project to address environmental justice in the Denver area. Tracy meets with the group of teens once a week for 2-3 hours and has helped them with their research and community contacts. She is also working with a group of middle school students at Cole Middle School every Friday for 2-3 hours this year to lead them through a community project to beautify the school and get the neglected school sign repainted.
In the words of the FrontRange staff who work with her, “She is awesome and inspiring. She is big hearted and generous with energy while being an Resident Assistant in her dorm and a full time student to boot!”Earth Force Volunteer.
This past school year Earth Force gave more than 35,000 young people an outlet for their passion for the environment by giving them the skills and knowledge to create lasting change in their community. Earth Force provides educators with training, materials and support to help youth lead environmental problem solving projects in their communities. Such projects help build lifelong habits of community service, active citizenship and environmental stewardship.
Earth Force students make substantial gains in civic action and problem-solving skills according to research conducted by Brandeis University. The same research shows that 100 percent of educators would recommend Earth Force to other educators.
“Earth Force helps my students see the connection between the world and the classroom. It has gotten me really networked into the community and helped me to become a better interdisciplinary instructor. I feel more empowered to use the community in my classroom,” said Earth Force Educator Daniel Jamsa of the Grant Community School in Salem, Oregon.
This past year Earth Force students have improved their community in a variety of ways. Students in Denver have made the roads near their schools safer for pedestrians by successfully petitioning for a new stop sign in front of the school. One group in Philadelphia convinced their school board to look into buses that emit less pollutants. From tackling urban blight to reducing pollutants in the water, Earth Force students come up with creative and innovative ways to make change in their communities.