Environmental Education in Texas

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I was an environmentalist long before I knew what the word meant. Growing up on a farm in northern Indiana, I learned from my father how to identify insects, birds, and animals, and I learned from my mother how to grow a garden. My parents had a 460-acre farm, and my father was constantly researching how to reduce artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and disturbance to the land, because it made good economic sense. He used crop rotation as the best method for fixing natural nitrogen in the soil, and he took advantage of the government soil bank program—which has received ridicule as “paying farmers not to grow crops”—to rest the land and enrich soil naturally.

Meanwhile, my mother, good child of the Great Depression, taught me to garden, raise chickens for eggs, and save every scrap of food, paper, and cloth. On our farm, we reduced waste, reused whatever could be reused, and conserved as a matter of principle and economic wisdom. My mother was one of those homemakers who used the printed cloth from chicken feed sacks to make dresses. At the time, I was embarrassed to wear recycled sacks, but looking back on it now, I’m proud that I wore those eco-friendly clothes.

When I grew up and entered the Peace Corps to serve in Chad, one of the poorest and most environmentally devastated countries in the world, I saw firsthand the disastrous results of deforestation. I also learned what it really means to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Not a single scrap of paper, glass, plastic, or metal ever went to waste in Chad. Every item was used again and again. People came by the house to collect bottles to resell in the market. Merchants used newspapers to wrap items, and children made toy cars from coat hangers and cans salvaged from people’s garbage.

Returning from Chad, I suffered culture shock as I witnessed with new eyes how much was wasted on a daily basis in my home country. When I saw people throwing away paper, cans, and bottles, I wanted to shout, “No, someone can use that! Please don’t throw it away!” I restrained myself, but I did reduce my own consumption, hoarding and reusing materials, and taking them wherever I could for recycling. I also encouraged my students to do the same, using community-service writing projects to heighten their awareness of environmental issues.

My awakening coincided with the growth of the sustainable living movement, and I joined every organization I could find, from National Resources Defense Council, to the Sierra Club, to World Wildlife Fund, to Greenpeace, to the Nature Conservancy. I served on the San Marcos Solid Waste Commission, which developed our first city-wide recycling program.

Now, as candidate for the State Board of Education District 5, I bring a passionate, long-standing commitment to environmental education as part of a comprehensive curriculum for the 21st century. We can no longer afford to squander the earth’s resources and poison the water and air we all share. It’s not just a good idea to conserve; it’s a matter of life and death, quite literally. Texas, as the nation’s biggest polluter, must take the lead in cleaning up our mess, using the wide open spaces and vast capacity for renewable energy—wind, solar, hydroelectric, wave, and geothermal—to develop a new economy and take us to a clean and prosperous future.

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One Response to “Environmental Education in Texas”

  1. Eco Friendly Says:

    Crane has a doctoral degree in educational leadership and a master’s in early childhood education from the University of North Texas. Eco Friendly

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