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We were invited by our Interfaith Campus Ministries to design and create an indoor "sacred space" for students. This was to be a space where any student, of any faith could come to meditate or pray. Our R&S group used nature as the theme for the room. We found a wall sized mural of a birch forest (in honor of Dr. Jane) for one wall. We pulled colors from the mural to paint the rest of the walls. We hung Christmas lights from the ceiling to simulate stars. Finally we brought in large over stuffed pillows, plants and a fountain to finish the room.
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For our Peace Day presentation in 2006 we gathered with people from our entire community and lit paper lanterns in honor of victims and soldiers in IRAQ. We arranged the lanterns in the shape the word PEACE.
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Our R & S members planted flowers around our school campus. We shared an appreciation for a flower's home in the ground. This project was discussed and decided among all of our members. We learned how to work cooperatively and how we can appreciate nature in its natural setting.
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Ashland Middle School's new Roots & Shoots Club experienced wonderful community support for our ReBirth the Earth; Trees for Tomorrow Campaign. BLM donated several Oregon native trees for this project. Our group of 20 students collected donations from their families, friends and neighbors as well as the Ashland Middle School community at our end of the year Bear Fair celebration. More than 40 trees were planted in our community. Four trees were planted on the Ashland Middle School campus. Students were first educated on the purpose and goals of the ReBirth the Earth campaign. They then practiced how to ask for a donation and how to answer questions concerning the project. We focused on the issues of pollution, global warming and reforestation. Next each student learned about the trees that were donated and how to successfully plant and support the growth of these trees. We used only native trees as to conserve water. Planting took place through the month of May. This project was very successful and fulfilling due to the fact that you were improving your own home environment as well as the Tanzanian environment.
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Happy Art was a creative project done by R & S members to raise awareness toward animal-friendly cosmetic companies. Our members collected the bottles or magazine advertisements of PETA approved animal friendly products and made the materials into an educational art project. We learned a lot from the PETA website about how a company qualifies as animal friendly. We also inspired other students in our school to consider buying animal friendly products.
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We researched a project in an earth-friendly project book on how to make a birdhouse. Our R & S group collected and cleaned out milk cartons from home to use to make birdhouses. We followed the instructions to make the birdhouses and brought the birdhouses home to shelter our feathered friends! In doing this project, we learned why a bird can benefit from a birdhouse.
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There is a historic Jewish Cemetery on the north side of Chicago, near to other historic cemeteries. This one had fallen into serious disrepair over the past 20 years or so, with invasive brush and weeds claiming almost the entire space. The ownership of the cemetery recently changed hands and the new owner has a real interest in cleaning it up, but has little funds. Our goal was to clear as much brush as possible to expose the gravestones and markers. I read about the cemetery in the Chicago Tribune and decided it would be a great service project for the human community. After contacting the reporter, she passed on my information to the new owner. The cemetery dates to about the 1830's and there are no family members currently paying maintenance fees. Our group has done a lot of work in forest preserves caring for the natural environment and wildlife habitats, so this fit in perfectly with their skill base. The project was inspiring because it again showed the kids how one small group of people can make a large difference. They want to go back and want other groups to get involved as this is a massive work in progress. It could be a beautiful site, but the owner needs a lot of help.
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The UUFN R&S group wanted a way to educate people about the Roots & Shoots organization. One of the members, Derek Cote, suggested a movie. So everyone decided we would make a 10 minute video showing how R&S began and how young people can change the world. Each week for two months they built sets, worked on the script, made gnome puppets and filmed each other doing projects. It was exciting to learn how to film a video and then see the results. The film 'premiered' at a fundraiser we organized to raise money for the Santa Martha animal rescue center in Ecuador. Everyone loved our movie! We uploaded it to YouTube for the world to see, and sent the link to our friends and family. We hope to also send it to other Roots & Shoots organizations. The movie can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=275BRxFtXyk
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To benefit World Wildlife Fund and help with the work they are doing with endangered species, we held an Earth Week event. The purpose of the even was not only to fundraise, but also to raise awareness about a variety of diverse environmental issues from energy conservation to global warming. During lunches, members set up tables in the three cafeterias with posters addressing a variety of environmental issues and canned for donations to World Wildlife Fund. Anyone who donated $1 or more was entered into a drawing to win tickets to either the Museum of Science or the New England Aquarium. For four of the days that week, members set up games in the third floor overpass which cost an average of $.50 to play. They included "Peg A Polluter" in which a member went outside dressed as a polluter and the participant aimed to hit them with a water balloon from the third floor overpass. Prizes were awarded to everyone who played the games. The entire hallway was set-up for Earth Week with streamers adorning the ceiling and "trees" covering the walls, where the names of donors were hung on leaves. There was "grass" hanging towards the ground made of table-cloths which we cut into strands. All of this set-up occurred on the Saturday before the event with members spending up to six hours preparing the hallway. The area even included some posters similar to those in the cafeterias which informed participants further about a plethora of environmental issues. To advertise for the event, we created posters to hang up around the school and had special morning announcements which included skits and fun-facts about the environmental issues we wanted to raise awareness of. Our project was a great success, both because we raised awareness of our group and because we raised $420 for World Wildlife Fund.
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At our school, there are many girls who buy prom dresses and never wear them again, but there are many girls throughout the state who do not attend their prom because they cannot afford to buy a dress. We collected a total of 20 gently-used prom dresses to donate to the Fairy Godmother Project of Massachusetts, an organization which makes dresses available to girls from low-income families who would otherwise be unable to attend the prom. Through our work on this drive, it is very gratifying to know that 20 girls will now be able to have the night of their lives--something we at our school often take for granted.

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