Children's Environmental Education Program Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary

Puget Sound Energy’s Powerful Choices for the Environment (Powerful Choices), a cooperative in-classroom educational program that teaches Washington state middle school students how their actions impact the environment, recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary at an event at PSE’s Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility near Ellensburg, Wash.

“It’s gratifying to know and note that Powerful Choices has been in existence long enough now to see the same middle school students reach adulthood and pass their learning on to their own children,” said Cal Shirley, vice president of Energy Efficiency Services for PSE, the program’s primary partner. “By teaching responsibility to members of our community when they are young, their behavioral changes result in longer and more lasting environmental outcomes.”

Leslie Hoelting, a participating teacher from Langley Middle School who attended the anniversary celebration, also expressed appreciation for Powerful Choices’ “presentation of environmental issues in a positive light that concentrates on how students can help the environment rather than how they hurt it” – a trait she finds unique to the program.

Program partners and staff, participating teachers, and students and their parents attended the celebration event, which included a review of the program’s history, an annual update for partner organizations, curriculum review with teachers and facilitators, and testimonials by participants. A tour of PSE’s wind facility and lunch (with an anniversary cake decorated with turbines) concluded the day’s agenda.

Powerful Choices sends facilitators into the classroom for a four-day period to demonstrate how students’ everyday choices affect the ecosystem. A full day is devoted to each of the following subjects: air, land, water and energy to address issues around air quality, waste reduction, and water and energy use.

To date, Powerful Choices has reached more than 100,000 students throughout PSE’s 11-county service area. In recent years, the program has focused on reaching out to schools in more remote parts of the region with additions in Island, Kitsap, Skagit, Thurston and Whatcom counties.

In the 2007-2008 school year, 15,372 students representing 73 schools participated, an average increase of 22 percent over last year. From September 2007 to June 2008, student application of the curriculum accounted for a savings of over 1 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, enough to power 100 homes during that same period of time, and 33 million gallons of water, the equivalent of 50 Olympic-size swimming pools.

To arrange for Powerful Choices to come to your school or for more information about PSE’s energy education programs for kids, parents and teachers, visit PSE.com or call PSE’s Energy Advisors at 1-800-562-1482.

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