EcoRise has gained enormous traction since its founding in 2008. Thanks to leadership commitments from Balcones Resources, The Meadows Foundation and H-E-B we will soon be serving more youth across Texas.
The success of the expansion of EcoRise centers on its “train-the-teacher model.” EcoRise focuses on educating teachers in detail during full-day training workshops. During these critical events, teachers are given hands-on instruction about how to use our curricula. As the school year progresses, EcoRise team members provide continued assistance and help teachers identify community volunteer experts for classroom presentations, mentorships, and field trips. At year-end student invention “showcase” events, EcoRise teachers invite community judges to review student inventions. In the end, teachers are essential to making EcoRise work in the classroom. We can’t say enough good things about them!
The month of August is when teacher training workshops occur. At the conclusion of each, EcoRise asks teachers to evaluate their experiences. Thus far, EcoRise has received high marks. High points the teachers have noted include that the workshops helped them understand the structure of each EcoRise lesson, and they enjoyed having time to discuss and brainstorm with one another. Teachers appreciated being able “demo” specific student projects so they are prepared well in advance. They reported they enjoyed hearing from community partners in person, who share information about their “green” work (this also helped teachers establish new community connections). Compliments were given regarding the highly organized nature of – and pacing – of the workshops, and teachers welcomed the new online platform, which has just gone “live” this summer. Last but not least, EcoRise always provides healthy, delicious food during its workshops, and many compliments were given in that regard.
Our year-in-review “infographic” for 2013-2014 illustrates our success with teachers and schools. Last year, EcoRise served 1,400 students and 33 teachers from 21 schools. Teacher surveys revealed that 90% described EcoRise curriculum as easy-to-use and engaging; 81% report EcoRise connected them to a larger community; and 75% reported EcoRise brought new energy to their teaching practice. Thanks to new funding partners, EcoRise is poised to increase its Texas footprint during the 2014-2015 school year by close to 60%.
EcoRise wishes to thank the Center for Community Cooperation (overseen by the Center for Nonprofit Management), Dallas; The Thinkery, Austin; Bullock Texas State History Museum, Austin; and AISD’s Science and Health Resource Center for serving as venues for our August teacher training workshops this year. Green business professionals are another key ingredient to the success of EcoRise Youth Innovations. Thanks go to the following for sharing their time and expertise during our recent teacher training workshops.
- Austin Creative ReUse
- Austin Energy Green Building
- Austin Permaculture Guild
- Austin Public Library, Recycled Reads
- Austin Youth River Watch
- Balcones Resources
- Capital Metro – Austin Public Transportation
- Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
- City of Austin, Austin Resource Recovery
- City of Austin, Office of Sustainability
- City of Austin, Watershed Protection Department
- Design Build Live
- East Side Compost Pedallers
- Eco-Schools USA – National Wildlife Federation
- Festival Beach Food Forest (formerly East Feast)
- Go Green Squads
- Green Mountain Energy
- Huston Tillotson University, The Dumpster Project
- Keep Austin Beautiful
- Pi Architects
- SE Rising
- Sustainable Food Center
- Ten Acre Organics
- The University of Texas at Austin, Office of Sustainability
- Urban Patchwork
- Urban Roots Austin
- U.S. Green Building Council
- Waller Creek Conservancy
If you have questions about our teacher training workshops, or would like to enroll your school in EcoRise, please contact Jonathan “Jon” Stott, Program Director (firstname.lastname@example.org).