Wynnebrook Elementary School in West Palm Beach, Florida, is going green with the help of a Green Power Grant from Pratt & Whitney. To kick off its year-long commitment to practicing more sustainability, the school joined thousands of other schools across the globe in hosting a Green Apple Day of Service event on Saturday, Sept. 26.
"Our goal is to make being green a way of life for everyone at our school," said Jeff Pegg, who has served as Wynnebrook Elementary School principal for more than 16 years.
Nearly 100 community volunteers, including representatives from the Wellington Garden Club and approximately 20 Pratt & Whitney employees, grabbed their favorite gardening tools and gloves and spent the morning transforming the school's courtyard into a first-class sustainable learning environment for students.
The volunteers laid down more than 80 bags of eco-mulch and planted 250 pollinator-friendly plants, 50 wild native flowers and three butterfly-friendly vines. They also prepared three raised beds for vegetables and herbs with six yards of organic veggie mix soil.
A Lifestyle of Giving Back
"Volunteering and promoting a lifestyle of giving back is important," said Devin Cross, aerospace systems and mechanical engineer in Systems Engineering - Validation at Pratt & Whitney West Palm Beach. "This community event was especially gratifying in that it gave us the opportunity to model for students how collaborating with others and hard work is rewarding, and provides the opportunity to create something meaningful and even beautiful while having fun in the process."
"Making it fun is important," Cross said. "If children do not see the fun in it, they will never take the time to try and understand the importance of doing something bigger than themselves."
"It is a responsibility and privilege to give back to the communities in which our employees live and work," said Mike O'Neill, manager, Systems Engineering Validation. "I am proud to work for a company that is an internationally recognized leader in green technologies and environmental sustainability, and is engaged in helping schools everywhere become green."
Green Buildings Promote Learning
Barbara Hadsell, a member of the Wellington Garden Club and key organizer of the Wynnebrook Green Apple Day of Service, said getting students outside and excited about nature at an early age has many benefits.
"Gardening is a great way for students to experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time," she said. "It helps build their self-esteem and teaches them caring about our natural resources is an everyday activity, which takes responsibility and commitment."
Making Being Green a Way of Life
"I am grateful to all those who joined us in helping us take our first big step toward making Wynnebrook Elementary School a high-performance green school as well as a high-performance academic school," Pegg said. "I am especially thankful to Pratt & Whitney for the Green Power Grant, which made our Green Apple Day of Service event possible and will fund numerous green classroom and schoolyard activities throughout the year. As a community, we sent a powerful message to our students that we care about them and their learning environment."
United Technologies Corp. is a founding sponsor of the U.S. Green Building Council's Center for Green Schools, which created the Green Apple Day of Service in 2012. The Center is making sure every student has the opportunity to attend a green school within this generation. This Green Apple Day project was recognized by the Center for Green Schools.