Kids Learn About STEM from the Environment

GM/NWF collaboration reaches thousands of students
May 24, 2016 11:15 AM ET

More than 4,000 kids are participating in a new environmental education initiative that’s helping them learn about STEM subjects through a green lens.

GM Eco-Green is a collaboration among the National Wildlife Federation and General Motors’ dealers, suppliers and non-manufacturing facilities across the U.S. The place-based, hands-on program exposes students to STEM career paths while encouraging them to become effective future leaders, problem solvers and environmental stewards.

Out of the 43 teachers engaged in the program so far, 83 percent said it increased their students’ interest in STEM while all of them reported it increased their personal enjoyment and satisfaction of teaching. All of those teachers also said it improved students’ understanding of environmental initiatives and increased their desire to actively work toward a healthy and more sustainable future.

Through the partnership, NWF scales its Eco-Schools program to more communities while enabling GM to make a bigger impact by serving communities beyond the cities where it has manufacturing operations. GM Eco-Green is NWF’s first national corporate-sponsored environmental education outreach program.

NWF CEO Collin O’Mara reinforces the benefits of connecting a network of K-12 schools with GM employees.

“Together we will develop goals and on-the-ground actions that will result in local sustainability projects across the United States and help to foster the next generation of environmental stewards,” he said.

Premier Chevrolet in Buena Park, California was one of the first dealerships to sign up volunteers for the GM Eco-Green program. Their employees are supporting students at nearby Mabel L. Pendleton Elementary on their water conservation and reuse investigation. Together with the students, dealer volunteers built a drip-irrigation system for the school garden containing newly-planted native drought-resistant plants.

Premier Chevrolet also supports student habitat investigations at Carl E. Gilbert Elementary.  Volunteers there are helping students install handmade bird and pollinator houses – some of which will even be housed at the dealership.

“GM Eco-Green is one of the best, smartest and most useful engagements of dealerships I’ve experienced in the 27 years I’ve been with Chevrolet,” said Zareh Chiranian, general manager at Premier Chevrolet. “Our employees truly feel that being part of this program gives teachers, students and volunteers the opportunity to positively impact our community.”

By 2018, NWF estimates the program will reach 25,000 students in 60 schools, mentored by employees from 60 GM dealerships, suppliers and non-manufacturing facilities. GM Eco-Green also plans to expand beyond the U.S. with an international partnership with the Foundation for Environmental Education.