August 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Panama: Ecology: The Santa Fe New Mexican: Panama RPCV Christina Dollhausen is co-founder of Earth Care and previously worked with kids in ecology education

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Panama: Peace Corps Panama : The Peace Corps in Panama: August 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Panama: Ecology: The Santa Fe New Mexican: Panama RPCV Christina Dollhausen is co-founder of Earth Care and previously worked with kids in ecology education

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 - 2:58 pm: Edit Post

Panama RPCV Christina Dollhausen is co-founder of Earth Care and previously worked with kids in ecology education

Panama RPCV Christina Dollhausen is co-founder of Earth Care and previously worked with kids in ecology education

Panama RPCV Christina Dollhausen is co-founder of Earth Care and previously worked with kids in ecology education


Aug 1, 2004

The Santa Fe New Mexican

by R. Lynn Barnes, With Courtesy Photos

Fueled only by used vegetable oil, a converted city bus will carry eight students and four educators from Santa Fe to San Francisco this fall for an international conference on sustainable living. The bus is designed to represent the best of sustainable practices, from its converted engine to its solar-powered electronics and bamboo flooring.

The bus is the summer project of 10 high-school students at Monte del Sol Charter School after their first year of a course in sustainable technology provided by a new nonprofit called Earth Care International.

Monte del Sol is the first school to incorporate the sustainability education curriculum. The class, Natural Technology and Ecological Design, was a hit with MdS students. So, this year, the program also will be offered at Santa Fe Secondary School and the Academy for Technology and the Classics.

"We would like to add four additional schools in 2005-06," says founder and executive director Taylor Selby. "We also plan to offer additional courses in community leadership, 21st Century entrepreneurial skills and social change."

Selby says Earth Care's goal is to offer sustainability education in schools across the state within six years. Plans also include opening two new schools: a charter school offering a one-year intensive learning curriculum for Santa Fe high- school students, and a private school in a semester-abroad format for students from around the country, modeled after the Wilderness Charter School in Ashland, Oregon.

"The quality of life of all on this planet is directly linked to having a positive relationship with the earth and with each other," says Selby. "We founded Earth Care so youth will think about sustainability when they become architects, engineers, business owners, doctors or whichever profession they choose."

Christina Dollhausen is Selby's partner and co-founder of Earth Care. She previously worked with kids in ecology education, and spent two years in Panama as a Peace Corps volunteer before she and Selby took an eight-month road trip around the country, meeting with sustainability leaders looking for "the best way to make an impact," says Selby. "It became clear that we wanted to work with youth."

"We saw a big gap in youth education," says Dollhausen. "There's lots of environmental education but very little about how the actions of daily life impact the environment. That was missing -- looking at interconnections to see how environmental issues play out in social problems."

In Santa Fe, the last stop on the road trip, Taylor and Dollhausen met with the late Fiz Harwood of EcoVersity, who suggested they help establish sustainability education for youth here.

"Santa Fe offered a unique mix of culture that presents the opportunity to see environmental issues in a different light -- how they play out in social and economic reality," says Dollhausen. "And there's lots of opportunities for working with youth in the wilderness and other cultural environments."

The couple developed a business plan and returned to Santa Fe three months later with a curriculum for high-school students. Harwood provided some seed money for the start-up and they approached the McCune Charitable Foundation for support after incorporating as a nonprofit in 2001.

"The first year we developed ideas and a plan," says Dollhausen about the organization's growth. "Of course, fund raising is always a challenge for any nonprofit. There's always a lot of great ideas, but if you have no backing you don't do anything."

In the past year, Earth Care has made progress in managing the business of being a nonprofit, developing a board of directors and hiring two more staff members. They also continue to peddle their program to schools.

"It (sustainability education) is becoming a hot topic in schools throughout the country," Selby says. "We hope in the near future to have sustainability education in every secondary high school in the state."

When asked how he gets kids interested in sustainability, Selby says interest is already there.

"We were not sure if students would be interested in sustainability," he explains. "I don't think I would have been back in the late '80s when I was in high school. But we are living in much different times. High school students are aware of the environmental damage that previous generations have caused to our planet. They are also aware of the severe degree that social and economic injustice exists in the world. Once they learn that there are solutions that currently exist that can make a more civil and sustainable world, they light up. There is nothing like seeing a student make the transformation from doom and gloom to becoming filled with possibility of a much healthier future."

Dollhausen says she's been impressed with the students' openness to different possibilities. "When they hear about solutions in ecology they get so inspired," she says. "It's fun to see them get

over that 'dis-empowered angst' and soak it up."

Hands-on activities are part of the appeal of the Earth Care curriculum. Last year, students not only designed the bio-diesel bus, they also built a greenhouse, straw bale benches and water catchments, according to Selby.

Selby says the curriculum is a balance between indoor classroom and outdoor experiential learning. "Students have very different learning styles," he says. "The favorites tend to be the hands-on projects. The students really enjoyed the greenhouse they created and the adobe bricks for their school tool shed. They also were inspired by videos of visionary leaders like Paul Hawken, Janine Benyus and William McDonough."

With enthusiasm high after the first year's classes, Selby and Dollhausen wanted to 'start a buzz about sustainability curriculum for high school's so began planning a conference for high-school students. It will be held at at Monte del Sol Charter School Oct. 1 and 2, and speakers will include environmental, social, and economic leaders. Hands-on workshops will be offered on topics such as water conservation and harvesting, fuel cell technology, organic gardening and composting toilets.

Students will share the work they are doing with students from other schools and establish mentor relationships with local sustainability experts. They also will get career and college information and design their own personal action plan that will be supported by Earth Care after the conference, like establishing Ecology Clubs in schools. In addition to workshops and talks, local businesses and organizations will exhibit.

"It's going to be very exciting," Selby says. "We expect to have 400 students participate from schools throughout Northern New Mexico."

Registration deadline for the conference is Sept. 24 and students can register through their school.

"At the natural tech classes we could see that the kids were on fire," Dollhausen says. "They had no idea there was all this work being done and what options they have in the field of sustainability. We came to the idea of a youth conference to expand the reach of that class. We want to make it a fun, informative, inspiring event, that will hopefully become a longer term program."

For more information, see or call 983-6896.

When this story was prepared, this was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
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Story Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Panama; Ecology



By Asha A Stout ( - on Sunday, December 11, 2005 - 7:28 pm: Edit Post

Dear Friends,
As a graduate of the Wilderness Charter School in Ashland, Or ('00) and a student at Prescott College I am inspired by the scope of Earth Care's sustainability education goals. Prescott College is hosting our first annual Green 2 Gold conference in March '06. Our mission is to offer a forum for cities and their citizens to learn and share the tools, information, networking, and structures needed to transition to sustainable municipalities with healthy economies. Please visit our website, for contact info, to learn more and get involved.
-Asha Stout-

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