The History of LPS Earth Club

Posted by Melissa Van Blarcom on 3/20/2020

By Rosemary D. Hoffmann, founder of LPS Earth Club

I was raised on 20 acres of gardens, fields, and woods. We spent hours and hours playing in the woods. My parents were both horticulturists, so we learned the names of the trees, flowers, and other plants. Our vacations were camping, in a tent and later in a pop-up trailer. Our activities included walking through the woods, going to the beach, and scouring the evening beach at low tide.

I have been a tree hugger since the first Earth Day in 1970 when I was in college. My household has recycled for as long as I can remember. Since I’ve had my own home, we have used cloth napkins and very few paper towels.

When I taught 2nd or 4th grades, we always celebrated Earth Day with fun activities that the National Wildlife Federation supplied, and took them outdoors when possible. I thought about starting an environmental club but felt that the primary grades were too young.

When I was transferred to the middle school, I got permission to start a club. I spoke to the students in both lunches briefly about the club which I saw as learning about and caring for the environment.

My first meeting had maybe 10 to 15 kids. The second meeting had only 5th graders—the youngest grade in the building. But there were maybe eight to ten kid who were very interested. I figured that they would make a good beginning and that we’d get more kids from each incoming 5 th grade. We needed a name for the club. One day, the kids started before I got there. They had EARTH written on the chalkboard and had gotten as far as Environmental Association for. . . Together we came up with the rest. The Environmental Association for Restoring Terrestrial Health. Or EARTH Club.

Andover Township always had an annual road clean-up so we always participated in that. One year we were able to get a bus to take us to Sandy Hook to participate in the International Coastal Cleanup.

We sold T-shirts each year for a company who would buy and preserve an acre of rainforest for every 10 shirts that we sold. Each year the company chose a different area of the world. One year it was Madagascar. That same year the Bronx Zoo had a special exhibit on Madagascar! So we raised some money and made a trip to the zoo where we got to see in person the animals we were working to save.

When I heard that bottle caps were being thrown away instead of being collected, the Club began collecting them. We made a mural of the ocean out of the bottle caps.

After the school built an addition, we discovered that there was a large courtyard that was completely surrounded. There could be no deer, ground hogs, or even rabbits in there. Monika, who had joined me in leading the Club by then, and I both thought the courtyard would be a great place for a garden. I presented the idea to the Club and they also thought it was a great idea. So, with the administration’s support and lots of help from the custodial staff, we took some unused cinderblocks and built a raised bed garden in the courtyard. We purchased and had donated tools, soil, coir, and everything we needed. By then the Club was larger so I formed a committee who went through the Burpee Catalog and picked out what seeds to by. They picked out red, yellow, orange, and purple carrots, round, white cucumbers, and other fun varieties of vegetables. For the summer, I assigned students a week to care for the garden. That way, if it rained one day, they knew they didn’t have to go. They weeded when necessary and were allowed to harvest and  take home anything that was ready during their week.

The next school year, we built a second bed and planted strawberries, raspberries, and a few blueberry bushes. At one point, we were able to share some raw vegetables with the whole school during their lunch periods. We did some other “educational” activities throughout the school year.

When I started the club, I wanted to share my love of the environment with the kids so they would continue to take care of it. I hope I succeeded.