I have, without a doubt, seen a great ripple effect because of my actions with Silver Creek. Before Tracey and I got there, the kids had already formed an environmental group on their own and had set up a recycling program for their school and neighboring communities, but we were still able to help. What they didn’t need help with was motivation. Completely on their own, they established a group that helped their school be less damaging to the environment around them—they had the personal inspiration to be environmentally friendly and did not need us to help them foster this. What they did need our help with, however, was to know exactly how to help and what they could achieve with the time, funds, help, etc, that they have available to them. Basically, they had great energy and drive, but they just didn’t know quite where to direct their energy. Tracey and I came in and gave them the direction they needed and helped them to see some of the problems going on around them and how to fix them. They had already begun to notice some of the problems with they ways that their school was run and had ideas of where to begin making the necessary changes, but we helped to open their eyes a little wider and see a little more.
It was a difficult line to walk, however, because if we helped them open their eyes too much, they could get discouraged because there are so many problems to solve. Many times, when taking multiple environmental classes per quarter, it is easy to get wrapped up in the vast amount of problems the world has that we need to solve. It can be easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and forget how easy it is to make simple changes that have a great effect. In fact, that is what these kids have taught me over this span of time. So Tracey and I were very wary to over-burden them with problems and potential solutions. Despite our best efforts, however, the kids did get a little weighed down, and we had to back them up and show them how much good work they had already accomplished with relatively little work. We had to sit them down and remind them that they could do great things (and already had) by making simple changes.
So yes, although these kids had a lot going for them before Tracey and I entered the picture, there was also a noticeable effect of our presence upon their views of being environmentally friendly and how to make change in the environment around them.