Everyone knows that, in April, environmental groups celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day by going all out to capture hearts, minds, and personal commitments to conservation. This year, the Hopewell Valley Regional School District (HVRSD) based Green Team decided to harness all that excited but disparate energy and bring it together into an inaugural event known as Hopewell Valley Green Week from April 18-24, 2021 with a special preview day on April 17.

In addition to consolidating a variety of activities, the HVRSD Green Team, composed of district-wide administrators, teachers, school board members, parents, and students as well as representatives from the municipal Hopewell Valley Green Team and FoHVOS, made a concerted effort to avoid Green Week being a ‘one and done’ holiday. Instead they aim to both figuratively and literally plant the seeds for continued growth.

Carolyn McGrath, a Green Week planning committee teacher explains, “We hope that the connections, conversations, and learning that take place during Green Week will deepen our commitment to working together towards environmentally just and sustainable solutions, and provide opportunities for continued dialogue & sustained action.”

Hopewell Valley Green Week planners centered environmental justice and sustainability as core values and selected documentaries with panel discussions, The Sacrifice Zone and Microplastic Madness, around those themes respectively.

Additional topics include reducing your carbon footprint, growing native plants, initiating a home waste audit, understanding food systems, climate change, bird migration, dark skies and more. When you are done learning over zoom, you can go out and plant trees, clean streams, go on a natural history hike that captures the sounds of frogs and salamanders, participate in a scavenger hunt, or hike preserves with the Hopewell Valley Naked Running man!

Green Week also includes classroom activities at every school. Students will be introduced to an environmental problem at the beginning of the week and tasked with helping to solve this problem by participating in a challenge. At the conclusion of the week, students will reflect on how the challenge impacted their week.

A high point of the week is on the actual Earth Day, April 22. The District selected the Outdoor Equity Alliance as a recipient for its only fundraiser. At 8pm, HVCHS Teacher Aaron Lewy will host an evening of environmentally-themed trivia challenges. At $10 for a team for of four, it’s guaranteed fun at bargain price. This ain’t his first rodeo and Mr. Lewy knows how to engage a Zoom audience with team breakout rooms. One lucky team will win first prize, but all players will go home a cool bookmark that includes a leaf made of wildflowers seeds to plant at home.

Outdoor Equity Alliance coordinator Renata Barnes said, “We were so happy when Carolyn (McGrath) told us about trivia night to support the OEA. Raising money is great and we will use it well, but I am even more excited that the District chose environmental equity as a singular community initiative to rally around.”

Hopewell Valley Green Week offers the best combination of tried and true through innovative and new. The preview day features the ever-popular Clean Communities Day, one of the oldest conservation initiatives in Hopewell Valley. For more than 20 years, FoHVOS and Hopewell Township have assigned groups to clean streets in exchange for cash to support their favorite non-profit organizations.

The Green Week culminates with the Green Week Forum, which planners aim to have community-based conversations exploring solutions to environmental challenges in the Hopewell Valley. The forum begins with a series of short talks delivered by elementary, middle, and high school students as well as Hopewell Valley alumni working in environmental fields. A diverse panel of speakers will follow and address different conservation topics in food, social justice, climate, legislation, waste, biodiversity, and/or sustainable living. This panel discussion will be followed by solution-oriented breakout sessions.

Links to all the activities can be found on the MercerMe calendar page. To filter, click on the magnifying glass icon and type HV Green Week, then click on the activity description for more information.

To read more about the Hopewell Valley Green Week, click here.

Submitted by Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space (FoHVOS).

Edited 4/2/21 at 8:14am at FoHVOS request to replace logo with schedule and explain about classroom activities.

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