Visiting the Green Ambassadors new facilities in Lawndale, California I noticed right away this program is driving Environmental Charter High School to be like no other. Maybe it was the compost corner and vegetable garden, or where they convert vegetables into biodiesel. Or the First Place award-winning ‘Floatation Machine’ made out 100% recycled products. Either way, this school is unique. I am at the home of The Green Ambassadors (Green Ambassadors website), which is an educational program from the Environmental Charter High School.
Sara Laimon, the magnetic Founder of Green Ambassadors gave me a tour of their new facilities of ECHS and Green Ambassadors, while still in the remodeling and upgrading phase. As the school is moving out of boxes, and organizing their new classrooms she explained the sustainable plans in store for this unique Environmental Charter High School. There is an air of excitement. As I peaked into the classrooms, students were busy with various projects. These students know they are making a difference in our world for generations to come. The Green Ambassador Program is comprised of an elective class taught throughout schools in Los Angeles area, Youth Summits, Green Mobile Embassy, Green Adventures and supported by Green Mentors.
This groundbreaking organization is beginning to explode. The green element of the program is so strong that even during our interview she was selling organic soda to students from her office. In fact we were surrounded by green solutions, hangers made from wheat, recycled binders made from paper, Forest Certified pencils, even donated environmentally friendly, bio-degradable diapers are stacked on her desk in the office she shares with her green partners. “This program is created to breakdown our cultural social paradigms and educate all. Especially the communities that suffer the most from environmental injustices, the inner city, who normally miss the green education on how to advocate for a clean, healthy environment.” Laimon.
Green Ambassadors, a project of Environmental Charter High School, is an environmental education program that empowers youth to become agents of change in their communities and the world. The goals of the program include: Educating and motivating youth, inspiring them to set a "Green" example through open idea exchange and social action; To create a learning environment that will inspire new thought, helping young people to develop confidence in themselves and their future; To network communities, share ideas and empower local and global environmental solutions; To create "Green Ambassadors" for local communities and the world, inspiring hope within us all for a just, sustainable and peaceful planet.
I asked Sara what’s the future you see for the Green Ambassadors?
With certainty she said, "For all schools to have Green Ambassadors around the world. Who are agents of change and the voice of the environment."
The Green Ambassador elective class at Environmental Charter High School is a required course for every student to take in their 10th grade year where students receive college credit from Los Angeles Trade Technical College. The Green Ambassadors have already been accomplishing their mission through their trainings in initiatives. These initiatives are implemented by youth who are committed to fulfilling Green Ambassadors mission, vision, values, and goals. The Green Ambassador program provides a different way of learning for youth who want to contribute to this planet.
They have been trained in the One Billion Bulbs Youth empowering youth to imagine the possibilities. With a goal of mobilizing the world to replace one billion standard incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. Plastics are Forever is another initiative where youth empowering youth to create cleaner oceans by banning plastic bags and Styrofoam (polystyrene) in Los Angeles with Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Bring Your Own, Heal the Bay and other non-profits. Green Ambassadors are trained in Biofuels, Organics, Biodiversity, Remediation of our soil, and constructing buildings and structures out of earth friendly materials.
‘Floatation Machine’ made of all recycled products
"Sara Laimon has been a positive light within the sustainability movement for the past ten years. During her career as a classroom teacher, she has guided classes and school groups to create cob benches, convert a diesel car to run on veggie oil, create bio-diesel, and eat organic. Sara has traveled to Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, Greece, and Galapagos finding, sharing, and learning solutions. She is devoting her life to creating and nurturing eco-activists to be empowered to share the solutions of hope."
Green Ambassadors currently has two teachers. They are unique in that they are well versed in Environmental Studies. "They approached me with a huge desire for a huge change." Sara shared with me. The names of these incredible teachers are Sandra Valencia who is originally from Colombia, she has taught High School Spanish for the past five years at ECHS and Dorsey High School (LAUSD). She has been an environmental activist for the past five years working with the Los Angeles Biodiesel Coalition, Dorsey High School’s club Global Warriors. Gabriel Azenna, who’s statement is "Green’ isn’t merely a color… but it’s a state of mind". He adheres to a pragmatic acceptance that human beings may continue to prosper, but only by recognizing and embracing our integral duty as planetary stewards. Beyond the classroom, Gabriel is the Environmental Education Director for Next Aid, a non-profit organization his wife Lauren, co-founded in 2002. Gabriel also sits on the steering committee for the Coalition for a Sustainable Africa; a consensus-based network of NGO’s all dedicated to sustainable development projects on the ground in Africa.
Sara believes that the passion behind the people that contribute to our program stems from a satisfaction that they are investing into youth, that they see what they are doing is bigger than themselves and they contributing to the environment at the same time.
I was also interested in the ethnic backgrounds of The Green Ambassadors.
She explained they started with inner city children, but understand and promote that there is one world and we are the human race working together to create a planet where everyone can live. Therefore we have ‘Youth Summit’ where youth crossing gender, race, and social barriers and are collaborating as youth across the city and nation to inspire, create, and share solutions for a healthy planet."
“We are tired of the myths about inner-city kids and their apathy towards the environment!” What is unique about our Los Angeles Youth Leadership Clinic is that it is youth-planned, youth- driven and youth-motivated. Youth are driven to improve their local environment."
Spelled out clearly on their website; “Young adults are creating their own stewardship model by teaching each other, pooling their resources, strengthening their community vision and inspiring people to change. Youth need to see that they are an influential and vital part of the community. The youth of Los Angeles are the next generation of leaders. If they are not included in the community when they are young, they may not stay in the community to be the leaders of the future. These thoughts were recently expressed by Sabina Ibarra, a youth participant in the leadership clinic, Green Ambassadors, and a student at Environmental Charter High School in Lawndale, CA."
In asking how Green Ambassadors improved their your local community? Sara reflects how they have demonstrated training for bio-diesel technology, community battery recycling, training local elementary schools on how to recycle plastics, to be a first in promoting city council ‘ban plastic in our community’, Awareness Day, and Earth Day to name just a few. They also are responsible for Southern California Disposal to switch their fleets of dirty diesel to run on clean burning biodiesel.
"Our strategy through all of our programs is to provide experiences for the Green Ambassadors to acquire knowledge and develop the skills that will not only help them in this program, but also provide them with real-world skills for personal, academic, and professional success. The students take the issue, research and develop solutions, and socially market the solution to their peers and the community at-large."
They have not stopped there. Green Adventures are cross cultural global exchanges. After a successful field experience to Brazil in April 2007 with Earthwatch Education, and educating the schools there, they have taken on a new horizon: Columbia. They are currently holding a fundraiser, ‘Support 10 students with the Green Adventure Program’ as they create Green Ambassador Leaders in Medellin, Columbia. Medellin has created several programs that aim to bring peace and environmental action through education. To find out more contact Sandra Valencia [email protected]org or Sara Laimon at 310.214.3400 ext 118. Visit
They believe that ‘ youth identify an issue, develop a solution, act to bring about the solution, and educate others. The most important part is that young people are becoming empowered to make a difference and are, in turn, empowering other young people. This leads to a community that has youth that are knowledge, active, and know how to make a difference.’
Sara Laimon explained what their Mobile Embassy will incorporate. It will feature a multi-media station and hands-on learning stations on the following topics; plastics, bio-diesel, bio-plastic, solar power, and organic foods. It will be used as the showcase for Green Ambassador to meet, share, and exemplify solutions for our Global Climate Crisis.
With expert assistance from Algalita Marine Research Foundation, Bring Your Own, and a grant from Patagonia, the Ambassadors will transform a trailer into a Green Mobile Embassy (GME), a vessel housing models of green solutions. The Mobile Embassy will serve to teach students from throughout the region about the issues and how they can help to alleviate the environmental problems." As their site reflects. Jack Assadourian, owner of the Ha-Ha Cafe Comedy Club in North Hollywood (www.hahacafe.com) also donated two school buses that will be converted into biodiesel transportation for the Green Ambassadors.
"The Green Ambassadors program also identifies and enlists ‘Green Mentors’ who are of college age or above. These Mentors work with the Green Ambassadors to support them in their learning of environmental issues as well as solutions to these issues. Green mentors are benefited by developing their interpersonal skills (empowerment, networking, and enrollment), knowledge (environmental and scientific), and ecological values (biodiversity and interconnectedness). Green Mentors assist the Green Ambassadors to focus on specific issues where students can create social awareness and measurable change."
If you are a teacher, administrator, parent or student, and want to be apart of Green Ambassadors go to: www.greenambassadors.org. You can contact Sandra Valencia ([email protected]) or Sarah Laimon at 310.214.3400 ext 118. Green Ambassadors 16314 Grevillea Ave, Lawndale, CA 902160 PHONE: 310.940.1626
There are several ways you can participate and make a difference in your school, community and planet. You can also go to the ‘Green Coalition’, a
"Green Youth Coalition connects environmental clubs across Southern California via www.becoolbegree.com to create a youth movement."
Green Ambassadors uses the EARTH CHARTER PRINCIPLES
You can learn more about Green Ambassadors and their Mission Statement: www.greenambassadors.org
They have communities and businesses reaching out to be apart of this unique program. ExitSigns.com environmentally friendly exit signs are a zero energy emissions, zero maintenance, and is zero damage to the environment. Fundraising Green, The Coffee Bean, California Credit Union, 41Pounds.org, Fred Leeds Properties, Smokey’s Muskie Shop, Marc Laimon Jiu Jitsu, Steaz, Peak Organic brewing company, the Sustainable Group, Southern California Disposal, Seven-Star green event experts, Get Hip Get Green, Cuningham Group, Cater Green zero waste solutions, Biodiesel America, Luis Moro Productions and Algalita Marine Research Foundation are a few of the sponsors that have jumped on board. The Official Fundraising Partner of Green Ambassadors are; My Green Spark, Fundraising Green.
The Green Ambassadors left me with an experience of what is right with the world. No matter what your opinions are on the environment, the fact remains they are cutting back on waste. These students, instead of worrying about the plights of inner city school problems, such as gang violence; they are creating an environment for themselves today, for their future that will effect generations to come. Not only are they making a difference for their school, families, and communities, but they are spreading the technology on HOW to be green to schools across the city, states, and now countries.
I left the school inspired, and honored that these incredible teenagers are working on change for my future, and my children’s future.
Let’s start off 2008 powerfully, and create "Green Ambassadors" for all communities inspiring hope for a just, sustainable and peaceful planet.