Piedmont Environmental Alliance Salutes
Volunteer Jean Alsup
“Life with enthusiasm” is how Jean Alsup describes how she wants to live her retirement, and she accomplishes this through her work with Piedmont Environmental Alliance (PEA). As a retired middle school teacher, Alsup’s work with PEA’s Energy Explorers Program gives her the opportunity to get back in the classroom and share her love for the environment with a new generation.
“Working with middle school students keeps me on my toes,” said Alsup. “The most exciting part of this volunteer work is the energy the students bring to the classroom.”
Alsup found that the Energy Explorers Program fit perfectly with her experience teaching. She taught nearly 30 years throughout the Piedmont – more than half of that time was spent teaching Environmental Studies. Alsup even developed the Environmental Studies program at Summit School, where she taught for 14 years.
It was about a year ago that she became involved with the PEA, and has been a vital part of the Energy Explorers Program ever since.
PEA’s Energy Explorers Program is a hands-on learning opportunity that educates middle school students about how energy is created, its impact on the environment, and the importance of conservation. Students are introduced to energy conservation in creative ways – through experimenting with wind energy turbines, portable solar-powered devices, and through “Pedal Power” – a bike that generates electricity and demonstrates how much energy it takes to light different types of light bulbs. Students also learn about how coal plants work, the differences between renewable and nonrenewable resources, and the environmental impact of energy creation. Middle schoolers leave with an assignment that literally brings the lesson home for them and their families – they learn to calculate the energy and cost savings of conserving energy in their own houses.
During the 2015-2016 school year, PEA presented Energy Explorers to more than 2,000 middle school students in the region, including all 7th graders attending Title I (underserved) schools in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system. One hundred percent of the teachers polled rated the program as a “highly valuable addition to the classroom.” And, a hundred percent of participating students demonstrated increased knowledge about energy consumption and energy conservation. Many students shared plans to change their behavior based on this new knowledge. PEA is on track to grow Energy Explorers to reach more than 3,000 students in the 2016-2017 school year, with plans to be in every seventh grade classroom in Forsyth County by 2017-2018.
The Energy Explorers is just one way that PEA is reaching the community. The PEA was established in 2005 with the first annual Piedmont Earth Day Fair. Since then, the organization has been bringing people, businesses, and government together to discover, learn about, and practice environmental stewardship. Today, PEA reaches 10,000 people annually at the Earth Day Fair and directly engages with more than 4,000 students annually in Forsyth County through education programs, including the Energy Explorers.
PEA salutes Jean Alsup for her volunteer work introducing local students to the Energy Explorers Program and educating them about energy conservation in their home and in our world.
For more information about how you can contribute or volunteer for the PEA and the Energy Explorers program, visit PEAnc.org.