With the Center for Green School’s Green Apple Day of Service right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how your community or classroom can get involved in a local service project to transform schools into healthy, safe and productive learning environments.
USGBC-North Carolina’s very own Emily Scofield offers her first book, CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World, as inspiration. Scofield’s book provides children with the education and enthusiasm necessary to take on some of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. I interviewed Scofield to learn more and to hear about her Green Apple Day of Service plans.
What inspired you to write CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World?
ES: When I was growing up, it was my job to collect and crush the family’s aluminum cans. If I did, I could keep the change from the scrap yard. I understood we were diverting waste from the landfill and that the cans were going into new materials; so, it wasn’t just one and done.
My grandparents lived on 21 acres in my hometown and to me that might as well have been 1000 acres! Being able to roam freely in nature definitely nurtured my appreciation for the natural environment.
Fast forward to my early career, I was an adjunct professor at several colleges in the Charlotte area, teaching courses on issues in science and environmental science, among other things. At the end of a semester, I could see people who came to class with little or no appreciation about how their daily actions impact the environment. But I could also see those who had an understanding and an awareness of these interactions. Students saw you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle but that you can make modifications to reduce the impact on the planet.
After the birth of my first child, I started jotting down outlines, characters and stories for a children’s fiction book that raises global environmental awareness.
Why is it important to have children’s literature detail the environmental challenges of today?
ES: The void I saw in this genre was big. I feel strongly that children of all ages need to be introduced to environmental issues within and beyond their immediate community. What I have done with CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World is introduce fun, familiar characters that encounter an environmental issue like eco-impact, waste reduction and plastic trash in the ocean. The message with each story is, “Do not be overwhelmed, but do something” because every positive action contributes to positive change.
How do you envision this book being used in classrooms or for other educational programs?
ES: I worked with several teachers during the proofing of the book. I am grateful for their advice because they really improved the final product. This book is an ideal supplement to environmental lessons for traditional classrooms, homeschool networks, scouts seeking an eco-badge, STEM/Sustainability clubs, and of course USGBC’s green schools outreach! The book contains three short stories with a glossary and sections called ‘Explore Further with CoCo & Dean.’ This section provides discussion points, activities and links to learn more about the environmental issue introduced.
As the Executive Director of the USBGC-NC, do you have any plans for the upcoming Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 26?
ES: I will be involved in several Green Apple Day of Service projects on and around Sept. 26 and am planning to read “Conquering Rabbit Hill” (the second story in CoCo & Dean: Explorers of the World) and have waste reduction activities and discussions with the students. I think the book is a great tool for the USGBC community and all of our Green Apple volunteers as we look for ways to engage generation green and to assist our teachers.
Do you think you could provide us with a sneak peek of CoCo & Dean’s upcoming adventures?
ES: Absolutely! The second book in the series is already in the works. CoCo & Dean will cover topics of water availability, food supply and energy demands. The second book will also introduce ethnically diverse characters from around the world. Stay tuned! For more information, please visit cocoanddean.com or follow @cocoanddean on Twitter.
This year’s Green Apple Day of Service will take place on Saturday, Sept. 26. Introducing students to books like CoCo & Dean, or 2014’s Willow Watts and the Green Schools Wish, are great ways to participate.