This has been an exciting week for me, and not just because it was my birthday.
On Tuesday, I received a call at school informing me that I’ve been chosen for an award. The local League of Women Voters honors women each year in March, since it is Women’s History Month. Their theme for the award in 2009 is “Taking the Lead to Save the Planet,” and someone nominated me. I’m so honored to have been selected for this award, since I don’t try to push my lifestyle on others and I don’t really see myself as a leader. When I was speaking to my friend and mentor, Sue, I said “I feel like I don’t even deserve it. I’m just a teacher.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized just how wrong I was. I try hard to be a good role model in many ways for my students, and one of the things I focus on most is being a steward to the Earth. I could speak on and on about the Pacific garbage patch, animals dying from plastic ingestion, BPA, dioxin, and the costs and benefits of recycling versus reducing, but all of that lecturing would be negated if I took a sip from a plastic water bottle. I can’t just talk about it, I need to live it. For example, my mother gave me a new stainless steel water bottle (blue and green) for my birthday. I gave my dented, orange bottle a rest, and at the beginning of my first class, a student said “Hey! You got a new water bottle! I like it.” They notice what I do, even if I feel like they don’t listen to what I say all the time. I guess in that sense, I am a leader. Still, I feel like I’ve only been at it for a relatively short period of time, and maybe in ten more years I’ll be deserving of an environmental leadership award. Either way, I’ve taught environmental science to over two hundred students, and I’m sure I’ve passed on my environmental values to at least some of my biology, botany, and forensics students, and even my study hall students, over the past six years.
I won again yesterday, when my butternut squash pie won the Pi Day baking contest at school. I was pretty excited about that, too! I won a gift card to a local bookstore and a pi T-shirt made by students. I was thrilled to hear my pie announced for first place.
This morning, my mother and I attended an organic gardening workshop at a local garden center. While I felt like I already knew most of what was discussed, since a lot of time was focused on topics I teach in botany or environmental science, I did learn about an organic gardening magazine for New England gardeners and got to stroll through their pansy, viola, and daffodil filled greenhouses for a dose of spring. Also, everyone who took the class was entered in a raffle for a bag of organic lawn fertilizer, and guess what? I won. The amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are small, and it’s also a time-release formula, with water-insoluble nitrogen, which will decrease runoff. It also contains corn gluten, which will help to prevent the germination of crab grass and other weed seeds. I’m not opposed to these weeds, but hey, it was free.
I typically never win anything, so I was excited to win three times this week. I’m most proud of the “Taking the Lead to Save the Planet” award, but the other two were nice additions. The League of Women Voters award ceremony is in a couple of weeks, and six different women will be honored there. I’m going to have to make a speech, and I’m nervous. But then again, speaking about my environmental ideals to a room full of people is nothing new to me, just ask my students.