Fort Hood: Program empowers students to care for the environment

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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) Fort Hood is trying to motivate the next generation to care for the environment through a new initiative.

(Photo by Chelsea Edwards)

The Youth Environmental Ambassadors or YEA! Program featuring several initiatives kicked off in October for Fort Hood and its eight surrounding communities.

The goal is to empower kids to participate in cleanup, conservation, recycling and beautification projects.

The 2018-2019 school year has marked the beginning of the YEA! Program which was started by the Centex Sustainable Communities Partnership and is open to all schools in the area.

Schools from Florence, Temple and Killeen ISD have already jumped in.

Students at Audie Murphy Middle School have their own recycling program and are responsible for collecting goods and helping them get recycled.

“If you help recycle like we do, we could probably change a lot of stuff about this world,” says seventh grade youth ambassador Elijah.

“Instead of having all that trash in the land, we would have a nice clean space so we could build new things or let it be for animals to have their habitats and live in peace,” he adds.

After students collect recyclables from classrooms each week, parent volunteers help transport aluminum cans to the Fort Hood Recycle Center where they get turned in for cash.

It’s an additional motivator to get kids involved in the program.

“Here at Fort Hood, we have a stellar environmental program, and we do our best to reach out to all audiences from our soldiers to our families,” says Environmental Outreach Coordinator Christine Luciano.

“It’s equally important to reach out to the youth and help educate them. It creates a domino effect, and we can all make a difference,” she says.

The recycle center offered fifty cents a pound as the youth ambassadors cashed in collected cans on Thursday.

Students in the YEA! Program get to decide how the money is spent at their schools.

Seventh grader Madelyn thinks it can be used to purchase school supplies for needy students, but having the extra cash is simply an added benefit to the program she supports passionately.

“This is where we live; this is where we go to school,” she says.

“We want to make it clean and make it a good environment, and since Fort Hood is called ‘the great place’, I want to do my part to make it great,” Madelyn said.

Other initiatives of the program include a poster contest and waterway clean-ups for October.

“Lights Out Lunch” is scheduled to run through April; schools turn out their lights during lunch once a month to promote energy conservation.

The program also has a recycle challenge starting in November; the winning school can win an extra $200.