Photo: Laura Milkert
Young people involved in Earth Force learn problem solving, leadership and democratic decision making skills. These 7th and 8th grade students are involved in their communities as active, engaged citizens working to protect their environment.
They choose a local environmental issue to explore and work to create and then implement a project to address that issue. Classrooms involved in the program are connected with local community organizations and professionals working in their field of interest. As a result, students take part in real world learning that strengthens their local neighborhood.
The students participate in Windy City Earth Force in the Calumet region of Chicago, a part of the Calumet Environmental Education Program (CEEP) within the Division of Environment, Culture and Conservation (ECCo).
The Earth Force six-step problem solving process encourages youth to thoroughly research an issue before they take action so they can hear multiple perspectives and design an effective solution that addresses the root causes of problems.
Earth Force Six-Step Process
Step 1: Community Environmental Inventory-Gather information about environmental assets & issues
Step 2: Issue Selection-Democratically select an environmental issue for further study
Step 3: Policy and Community Practice Research-Identify policies and practices related to the issue
Step 4: Options for Influencing Policy and Practice-Select a policy or community practice to change
Step 5: Planning and Taking Civic Action-Create and carry out a plan for action
Step 6: Looking Back and Ahead-Reflect on the project and identify next steps
Earth Force projects are youth-driven and vary from group to group. Past projects have included planting native plant gardens to beautify the neighborhood and provide wildlife habitat, creating an informational video to encourage others to take steps to mitigate climate change, and writing and distributing a brochure on how to make non-toxic, environmentally friendly cleaning products.
Earth Force is a national non-profit organization that empowers youth to help solve local environmental problems. The Field Museum is one of many organizations that use the Earth Force six-step problem solving process with youth. For more information about Earth Force please vist their website.
Learn more about ECCo's urban conservation work in the Chicago region.