Environmental Insights—and a Rowdy Elephant—Were the Focus on Green Apple Day

The children were immersed in learning about sustainability and protecting the natural world during our annual Green Apple Day of Service. A global celebration of environmental awareness developed by the Center for Green Schools, Green Apple Day is an opportunity for students around the world to learn about eco-friendly, sustainable practices and help make their schools and communities more green.

The highlight of our Green Apple Day was a presentation by The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where formerly captive elephants now roam in an open, natural environment. The children were entranced by the docent’s stories about each elephant and videos of them
socializing, wallowing in ponds, taking dust baths and freely exploring the woods and fields around them. They learned why formerly captive elephants need special care in a sanctuary, how to distinguish African and Asian elephants, and the importance of an elephant’s big ears and long trunk. All were delighted to hear that TCS is adopting an Asian elephant, “Rowdy Ronnie,” to help provide for her care. A former circus elephant, gregarious Ronnie serves as the social glue among the five elephants in her herd.

Thanks to a visit from the educators at SoundWaters, a research vessel devoted to preserving the rich marine ecosystems on Long Island Sound, the children enjoyed a close-up look at the fascinating wildlife that live in this estuary environment. They observed and touched live hermit, spider and horseshoe crabs and learned all about these species. Did you know that the horseshoe crab has been on Earth longer than dinosaurs, and that its bright blue blood is used worldwide to test for impurities and contaminants in vaccines, including the covid vaccine? Protecting the marine and shoreline environments in which these ancient crabs live and lay their eggs turns out to be vital for our own health and well-being.

In a conversation about energy, the Graders learned how the use of clean, renewable sources of fuel such as wind or sunlight contribute to cleaner air compared to nonrenewable fuels such as gas and oil. The children were introduced to the concept of sustainability and took a tour of the campus to examine the features—such as the use of native plants and rain barrels to conserve water—that make TCS a LEED-certified sustainable environment. Children in all programs discussed the importance of recycling and made stunning, three-
dimensional collages from recycled materials such as wood scraps, cardboard and cork. When we are able to, the Graders will return to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center for a traditional day of service there, helping out in the garden and farm.

On Green Apple Day, the teachers and I always consider ourselves fortunate to have an audience that’s so eager and ready to learn about sustaining our environment. This annual event makes us realize how much children have to teach us—not only about their love of nature, but also why we, the adults, must do our utmost to bequeath them a clean, healthy environment and a stable climate.

Here’s to being green becoming second nature,