Green Difference Award Profiles
Lifetime Achievement Winner
Farmer Frog School Projects, WA
Zsofia Pasztor has been a warrior for green and sustainable agriculture for more than a decade. She and her husband left communist Hungary in 1987 and spent two years in a United Nations camp before they were selected to come to the U.S. in 1989. When she arrived, she spoke no English, had no marketable skills and knew little about American culture. Since then, she has become an award-winning landscape designer, permaculturist, horticulturist, and arborist.
Pasztor has observed that when people grow food together, they improve their sense of community and their health. With that motivation, in 2009, she put her heart and soul into founding Farmer Frog, a non-profit that helps communities, especially those in food deserts, become more self-sufficient in growing and preparing their food. This type of systemic change starts in schools, and Farmer Frog supports sustainable agriculture in schools all year long.
Farmer Frog works with teachers, parents, and students at all grade levels — preschool through college — to establish and maintain school gardens and integrate them into the curriculum. In the summer months, Farmer Frog offers externships for teachers and summer camp for students interested in sustainable food production. It also creates opportunities to sell the produce that they grow at local farmers’ markets. It’s the vision, dedication, hard work and persistence of Pasztor that makes all of this possible.
Director of Education, Save the Bay Inc., Providence, RI
Explore The Bay Education Program
In 1987, Save The Bay in Providence, RI, launched Explore The Bay (ETB), a shipboard Bay education program for RI students. Now marking its 30th anniversary, the program has grown to provide hands-on science opportunities to more than 15,000 students every school year from Rhode Island, Southeastern Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Combined with its public programs and opportunities, ETB regularly involves 30,000 individuals in Bay education and experiences annually and has engaged more than 180,000 students over time. The ETB program provides hands-on, real-world, inquiry based, science education to students in grades K-12 and supports learning at the college level for local universities. ETB provide students with opportunities at its facility in Providence, on two boats – the M/V Alletta Morris and the M/V Elizabeth Morris at their Newport Exploration Center & Aquarium, along the coast, into the rivers of the watershed, and in classrooms.
ETB’s primary focus is high-impact programs, where students engage multiple times throughout the school year and in multiple ways, yielding a more complete learning experience. Overall, ETB is the cornerstone of Save The Bay’s long-term approach to protecting the health of Narragansett Bay – providing critical experiential education in marine and environmental science while inspiring the next generation of Bay stewards.
Chelmsford High School
Eco Club & School Composting
Anna Shi is the force behind Chelmsford High School’s Ecology Club, which she founded in 2016. She developed the mission statement, created the plans for the club’s work and recruited 12 members, who meet regularly.
In addition, she spearheaded the school’s first ever compost bin on campus for cafeteria waste – something that proved to be no easy task. Anna met with custodians, building managers, cafeteria staff and principals. She led meetings with town representatives, conducted an audit of food waste and compiled a detailed data driven report. She researched composting, and met with the Board of Health to ensure compliance with all regulations and safety.
Anna then recruited student volunteers who gather each day after school to remove the food scraps from the cafeteria to fill the bin, stir the bin, and lock up the bin. As a result of Anna’s hard work, the school now has two working compost bins. Plus, she continues to raise funds to obtain more bins and wrote and received a grant to build a storage shed to house the composting supplies.
Her first meeting included me, and one student. But Anna was not deterred. She gave us a detailed power point on the importance of her club, the goals the mission and even a method of holding elections of officers.
She met each challenge and persevered until she was successful. She
Since that first day, the club has blossomed to included a dozen members or so, that meet regularly. Anna became a member of our town’s recycling committee.
It sounded easy to Anna, to install a compost bin for cafeteria waste, but of course she was met with a mile of red tape as obstacles stood in her way. She was never discouraged.
I have never seen a student be so dedicated to a project which gives her no grade, no recognition and is a completely selfless act for the environment. I would love to see Anna receive this award for her outstanding work and dedication. The photo below shows Anna (center) accepting a donation from the Garden Club to start up her compost bin project.
Korpita’s Kids Green Team
Anne T. Dunphy School Williamsburg Elementary School
Korpita’s Kids Green Team is the brainchild of Johanna Korpita, a teacher and visionary whose classes of 1st and 2nd graders have – for more than a decade – been crusaders for improving the environment and talking about it loudly with a whole lot of heart.
They see trash in the river, so they tell their town that they need to do something about it. They cut through the red tape and now the town recycles plastic bags at the landfill. They see pictures of turtles and other sea creatures harmed by disposal of drinking straws, so they launch a campaign to encourage their schoolmates to “Skip a Straw, Save a Sea Turtle” and spread the word to the community at large. They collect used magic markers to return to Crayola for recycling. And project after project, the list goes on.
These young students are also learning to work with people of all ages and speak publically, including talking to other classes, parents, the School Committee, the Board of Health, Town Government officials and more. Through this work, with Johanna Korpita at the helm, they are gaining vital skills that not only set the stage for a lifetime commitment to the environment, but also for productivity in life more generally.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER, GREEN UP NEW ENGLAND CHALLENGE
Epiphany School Greenhouse & Garden Education Program
An independent, tuition-free middle school for children who come from economically disadvantaged families, who have been abused and neglected or who have experienced homelessness, the Epiphany School is weaving gardening and energy-efficiency into the fabric of the school with its standout Greenhouse and Garden Education Program.
Over the past five years, Epiphany has transformed dramatically with a wide array of innovative green practices, from transitioning the meal program from frozen to fresh food to installing a 25-kilowatt solar power array on the schoolhouse roof. By composting in the last school year, Epiphany recycled 4.28 tons of food waste, saving 73 mature trees,1.982 gallons of oil, and 29,690 gallons of water.
In the fall of 2016, the school launched a Green Club that brings students and teachers together to collaborate on cooking and gardening activities. And for the 2017-2018 school year, Epiphany plans to expand its program, with a 1,000-square foot greenhouse, 15-20 raised beds, and edible landscaping throughout the property. With these facilities, the school will involve all children, families, and staff at Epiphany (over 300 people) in this work and invite community members and organizations to work with them.