The nonprofit Environmental Education for the Next Generation established several new regional chapters earlier this month, extending its program to over 19 classrooms statewide.
The EENG — founded in 2009 by several UCSB undergraduates — enlists college student volunteers to teach first- and second-graders about sustainability and environmental issues through classroom lessons and experiments. The organization expanded its eight-week curriculum through its new regional directors at universities in San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and San Francisco.
According to Executive Director and founder Ryland King, a fourth year environmental studies major, the institute has gained steady momentum since it began at UCSB.
“It went as smooth as it could,” King said. “I’m amazed at how successful the launch was, which is a testament to the regional directors and our director of operations, Tanya Heravian.”
The organization plans to expand to 43 classrooms in Santa Barbara, 25 in San Luis Obispo, 12 in Santa Cruz and four in San Francisco within the next few months.
King said the program’s success could spread it to a nationwide level.
“Where we’re at right now is a huge testament to our 60 volunteers and eight staff members here,” King said. “It’s all made possible by the UCSB community. … After this year, I’d like to not only be working EENG full-time but working it with a full-time staff as well. That could definitely happen with where we’re going.”
The nonprofit won the Dockers “Wears the Pants” Facebook contest last May and received a $100,000 grant to help fund the group’s venture, according to King.
“The Dockers Contest definitely gave us the next step,” King said. “Those doors had always been open, we just weren’t able to take them due to lack of funding. Now we have full discretion on how those funds are spent, which is really imperative for what we plan to do.”
The group’s new regional directors are Jamee Curran, a third-year graphic design major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Max Binstock, a 2011 UCSB alumni heading the University of San Francisco chapter and Tyler Hubbell, a third-year environmental studies and marine biology major at UC Santa Cruz.
According to Hubbell, UC Santa Cruz regional director, the program attracts a steady flow of volunteers to help spread its curriculum.
“The instructors were all really excited and stoked on how it went,” Hubbell said. “They did a wonderful job. It’s definitely a wonderful experience and we also learned a lot from the kids. … You’re not living unless you’re learning.”
The curriculum adheres to the State Board of Education’s standards, Hubbell said.
“We did soil science in a second grade classroom last week,” Hubbell said. “Next week we’re going to teach composting. The kids are really excited that we’re doing this, and so are the teachers. It’s all-around really cool.”
Binstock said the original model established at UCSB sets a structural guideline for its new branches.
“The program’s structure was already created by everyone in Santa Barbara,” Binstock said. “My goal is to implement that structure at USF and have the students take it over by the end of the year.”
His experiences as an EENG instructor at UCSB fueled his desire to expand the program statewide, according to Binstock.
“I had a lot of fun and helped with the push to win the Dockers grant,” Binstock said. “Once I knew we had the money I knew we could expand. … I knew I was going to be in San Francisco so I figured it would be an awesome opportunity.”
The organization aims to continue growing with a new chapter early next year, according to King.
“We’re more concentrated on the next right person than the next city,” King said. “Wherever that person is, that’s what city we’ll go to. We’ll launch that program in a California city in March.”