Students caring for the planet through ‘Green Team’ Program

'Green Team' Program at Reagan Elementary in Odessa
Published: Apr. 24, 2023 at 4:50 AM CDT
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - Mrs. Anese Forsyth, a first grade bilingual teacher at Reagan Elementary in Odessa, has a passion for educating students about different ways to care for the planet. Through a program she started called ‘Green Team,’ students learn more than just reduce, reuse, recycle, they are also taught how to garden and pick up litter.

“They can see the big picture of what small acts can do to make a big difference in the world,” Mrs. Forsyth said.

So many students were interested in joining the program they had to cap it at 90 total, 45 students per semester. The group meets once a month after school and the kids take what they learn in the program and use it in their everyday lives.

“When you teach the students about recycling, they just get it. then they take it home to their parents and their parents get it. It’s a way to help the students become teachers,” Mrs. Forsyth said.

Matthew, a fourth grader at Reagan said he joined the program out of curiosity, but now it has changed how he goes about his daily life.

“Before I was in Green Team I saw so much trash and I didn’t mind picking it up, Ijust saw it and I was like ‘well,’ but then I got in Green Team and started picking it up at my house…I picked up about one whole bag of trash,” Matthew said.

Mrs. Forsyth said when the whole family and community get involved, it can have lasting impacts.

“I always tell my kids their parents are the first teacher, they are the second teacher and I’m the third teacher and together we can teach each other how to preserve and protect our planet,” Mrs. Forsyth said.

The Green Team has support from many people and organizations in the community, including Keep Odessa Beautiful. Executive Director, Claudia Ortega, said teaching kids these lessons at such a young age will instill important values that they will share with others.

“It started at the schools and now the parents are getting involved, so if we can get everybody and all the schools in Odessa it would be very beneficial because it’s for everybody, not just the students,” Mrs. Ortega said.

Mrs. Forsyth’s passion for taking care of the earth shines through in her students.

“When we have Green Team the world is cleaner, but if we didn’t have Green Team then the earth would be dirtier and bad,” Matthew said.

Also at Reagan, newly built outdoor classrooms were dedicated to former teachers, Robin Gutierrez and Loretta Diane Walker who both passed away from cancer. These classrooms will be used for a variety of reasons by the school and serve as a reminder of the legacy the two women left behind. Mrs. Forsyth described the dedication as a dream come true.