The National Science Foundation recognized in 2003 that, "In the coming decades, the public will more frequently be called upon to understand complex environmental issues, assess risk, evaluate proposed environmental plans and understand how individual decisions affect the environment.” Yet surprisingly, a large group of the 75 million youth in America today, is not adequately gaining the skills needed to solve this problem. Moreover, organizations continually target schools with messages urging for more environmental education integration into curriculum, but empowering students to take a substantive leadership role in the changemaking process takes a unique twist from the everyday message.
The Corporation for National and Community Service notes that young people that engage in meaningful service “gain a deeper understanding of themselves, their community, and society.” According to the Civic Mission of Schools, generally, disadvantaged youth are exposed to fewer opportunities to engage in civic programs. By putting young people from all backgrounds in the driver’s seat, students experience an increased motivation to learn and engage with academic subjects, cultivate responsibility for self and others, develop ability to work well with others, and begin to develop a lifelong commitment to public service and learning. When we make academic connections to environmental service, we promote academic success in our youth. Research from the study, The Effects of Volunteering on the Volunteer, suggests that civic engagement also promotes workplace readiness. Moreover, direct correlations link involving youth in civic activities to a more engaged, empowered, and educated population in the future.
In 2010, the Teen Voice Institute found that youth of today need platforms to share ideas, meaningful adults that care about their future, and multiple opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities to become successful citizens. Additionally, shaping this model into an afterschool program multiplies the effects. According to the YMCA, teens who do not participate in afterschool programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes, drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes. The Earth Savers Club program will eventually become a staple in local schools that will ultimately shift into a revolution of modern curricula as a whole that incorporates environmental stewardship, promotes academic success, and prepares our generation for science and advocacy careers.