ILACSDC programs get the word out
ids are more sophisticated now. They know what a landfill
is. They know about recycling," said Robert Opliger, education coordinator
for I Love a Clean San Diego County Inc. (ILACSDC), an organization committed
to conservation, recycling, environmental education and neighborhood beautification.
School presentation, mini-grants, workshops, new curricula and cleanups
lead the way
Through its Earth Talk program, ILACSDC puts teens on
the talk circuit, while an adult speakers bureau goes to schools and adult
The hands-on presentations are tailored to each age
group. Since young children relate well to animals, speakers first ask them
what animals they've seen locally. Well, you haven't really seen dragons
and dinosaurs, the kids are reminded when they come up with farfetched examples.
On second thought, they remember the foxes and coyotes they've spotted.
"We tell the kids that when they throw away trash into the canyons,
they're taking away the homes of animals," said Opliger.
Speakers demonstrate how to make toys from trash. An
empty bleach bottle becomes a piggy bank or scoop to catch bean bags. Plastic
six-pack rings - one of the many environmental threats to sea life - are
woven together to make a volleyball net. Speakers also hand out products
made from recylables, such as writing paper, note pads, and pencils made
from cardboard. "It's important to stay with the children, because
a lot of adults have given up," said Opliger.
As part of the National Civilian Community Corps, Opliger
has been named unit leader of five teams made up of 11 volunteers each.
The San Diego-based corps campus is one of four in the United States. Beginning
Sept. 7, the teams of 18- to 24-year-olds will take part in community service
projects, such as Tijuana restoration programs.
ILACSDC just completed a two-year project, funded in
part by the county. The result is a 500-page, 15-unit interdisciplinary
curriculum. Up to 3,000 copies of the suggested curriculum will be sent
to junior and high school teachers throughout the county. ILACSDC will present
free workshops to show teachers how they can best use the curriculum that
offers classes in sewage problems, water usage, ocean runoff problems, and
The organization is in the process of developing an
anti-graffitti curriculum, funded by the city of San Diego, which will be
distributed to all teachers in the county
Mini grants and more
ILACSDC offers $100 mini grants to schools. Applicants
complete a one-page form stating how they want to use the money, for instance,
in starting a compost bin. "When the school district is very involved
and active in the cause, then it seems to work a lot smoother," said
Andy Schulman, program coordinator at ILACSDC. "All of us remember
high school when there were no ecology clubs. Now it seems like all the
schools have them."
ILACSDC offers an environmental awareness program for
junior and senior high schools. A symposium and workshops held in downtown
San Diego during the fall help ecology clubs come up with project ideas.
A new partnership, called the Clean Team, has been made
between ILACSDC and McDonald's Corp. Geared for 10- to 15-year-olds, the
team takes part in clean-up activities and members - currently numbering
close to 500 - receive a newsletter.
One of the best incentives ILACSDC offers is its patch
program. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls and other organizations
can earn different patches for completing four-hour activities. Patches
available year-round cover beach and bay cleanup, street clean-up or adopt-a-bus-stop,
and recycling. Once a year a special beach clean-up patch can be earned
during ILACSDC's annual event.
Lorin Hallinan is a freelance author and former Editor for the Coast
Dispatch and Carlsbad Journal community newspapers. A 13-year San Diego
resident, she lives in Carlsbad, with her cat.