A group of chattering children walk out of a room at Rust Library, flushed with excitement and clutching a prize: a book made from recycled paper bags. This ends another session of "Go-Go Green," an environmental awareness program aimed at 6-8 year olds, led by Susan Baggett, that meets monthly at Rust Library.
"It’s one of our programs that fills up fast, usually with a waiting list," said Maureen Smith, head of Youth Services. "Go-Go Green" started last September, kicking off with "Trash, Trash, Trash — The Three Rs of Trash," and meets each month for an hour to discuss environmental topics. Children listen to information, ask questions and make a relevant activity or craft from recycled materials. Taking some inspiration from the Town of Leesburg’s recycling projects, the staff at Rust adapts the ideas for children.
"It’s a local thing so kids can see what they can do," said Smith.
THE INSPIRATION for such programs is everywhere. Materials regarding the environment and conservation have always lined library shelves, especially in the children’s sections. Children can find books, videos and magazines that not only talk about natural resources, but also suggest ways that families can work together to make a difference. Not only that, but Al Gore’s book, "An Inconvenient Truth" likely played a part in establishing this program.
"Al Gore’s work has put this in the limelight, generally speaking," said Smith; however, "It’s only a hundred years ago that there were things around that don’t exist anymore," said Linda Holtstander, division manager. While it may not be as obvious in Loudoun, "It’s more obvious in urban areas," said Holtstander.
ENVIRONMENTALLY-BASED activities for children are not new. Students in Loudoun County have been studying the environment for quite some time. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) employ energy educators, professionals who work with principals and teachers to provide programs that teach energy conservation. A recent contest encouraged students to design light-switch stickers that remind everyone to turn off lights in unused rooms. Immediately, students are cutting energy costs, but in the long run, they are saving resources.
Likewise, subjects like earth science and biology are offered as young as fourth grade.
"Opportunities to experience environmental studies are woven into the curriculum," said Jennifer Chang, a science specialist with LCPS. "And schools have recycle bins for paper in each classroom."
Does all this make for environmentally savvy "Go-Go Green" attendees? Yes, said Smith.
"They come with knowledge. They jump to answer: that’s great to see."
This month’s topic is "Tox in a Box," which teaches household chemical safety. Visit www.lcpl.lib.va.us for more information regarding any of the library’s programs.