This program brought schools and businesses together to creatively work towards improving air quality and has evolved into the more comprehensive program called Green & Healthy Schools. While the School+Business=Clean Air program is no longer offered in Wisconsin, information about the program and links to past resources are available below to those organizations interested in replicating the program.
What was School+Business=Clean Air?
School + Business = Clean Air was a dynamic program designed to teach kids about how making wise choices can make the air better to breathe for everyone. Teaching children the impacts of their actions on air quality at an early age will hopefully result in improved air quality. The poster/poetry exhibit part of the program was also educational to businesses, their employees, and the general public who viewed the art about actions they can take to improve air quality.
Teachers were provided with a packet of educational materials and curriculum ideas. The science, math, and language arts lessons were targeted for sixth grade students, though some of the lessons were suitable for grades five through eight. Teachers could use as much (or as little) of this material as they felt appropriate for their classroom.
Students were then asked to put what they have learned to use in creating posters that positively addressed one or more ways to keep the air we breathe clean (e.g., ride a bike to get somewhere, conserve energy, take the bus). The posters were then sent in to be judged for the poster competition. Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air considered each poster’s message, content, design, and degree of creativity in considering winners.
One poster from each classroom was selected for the final round of judging. These top posters were featured in an exhibit in the lobby of the Department of Natural Resources Southeast Regional Headquarters in Milwaukee and posted on our web site. Additionally, each winning poster and class that entered the contest received a certificate of recognition.
The overall, top-winning poster received a special prize and was featured on a magnet that was distributed to all program participants.
Why would businesses and schools want to participate in such a program?
The partnership between schools and business was an excellent way to illustrate the importance of alternative modes of transportation to employees, especially during ozone season. It was also a great way for businesses to get involved in the community and to provide kids with some real life examples of what businesses do to keep the environment healthy. Students learned through the curriculum about sources and impacts of air pollution. They then had the opportunity to learn directly from their partner business about how business operations impact the environment and what businesses are doing to reduce their impact.
What was the participation process?
1. Schools register for the program in October and businesses register by February (School Registration form, Business Registration form). If a school or class already had a business partner with whom they’d like to work or if a business already had a class or school with whom they’d like to work, they requested to be matched when they registered.
2. Schools integrated ideas from the curriculum packet (that was sent to them in November) into their lesson plans to teach kids about the importance of clean air (the curriculum is not available electronically so please contact WPCA if you are an organization interested in replicating these materials).
3. Businesses and schools were notified of who their partner school/business was by the end of February.
4. Businesses were to then contact their partner school during the month of March to introduce themselves and let the teacher know that they are enthusiastic about displaying the class’s clean air posters during May. They were to offer to go into the classroom (or school would contact the business and invite them) to speak to students about what their business does to keep the air clean or could invite the class to visit and tour their business site (better yet, both).
5. Students create posters on 8½ x 14 inch or 8½ x 11inch white paper using crayons, paints or markers, or write poems, to show different ways to get too school, work, shopping or other activities instead of driving alone. They sent posters/poems to WPCA by April 1st. (Poster/Poem Guidelines, Entry form)
6. Posters/poems were judged by WPCA panel in April. Recognition was sent to each school. Schools commended the student who created the winning poster in their class with the certificate of recognition, as well as the entire class with a certificate of environmental caring, (which was sent in April). The WPCA web site posted the winning poster from each class in May (Clean Air Month) and teachers could show students.
7. The winning poster/poem from each class was displayed in the lobby of the Department of Natural Resources in Milwaukee. The rest of the posters/poems were displayed during the month of May (Clean Air Month) at the partner business site to help remind people there what they can do to help clean up the air. Businesses were encouraged to exhibit posters in public areas (e.g., cafeterias, break rooms, office hallways, reception areas, community rooms).
8. Participating schools completed and returned an exit survey that was mailed to them with the certificates during May.
9. Business partners returned the posters to schools when they have finished displaying them at the end of May or early June (before end of school year). Schools were encouraged to remind business partner to return the posters at the end of the month. The class’s winning poster was not returned since it was used for program marketing by WPCA coordinators.
10. WPCA distributed magnets featuring the top-winning poster (which was sent in late May) to schools for the students so they could have a constant reminder of what they can do to help keep the air clean. Magnets were also distributed at local health and environmental events.