Check out these useful tip sheets or ‘how to guides’ to help your student environment group
Meetings are an opportunity to meet like-minded people, share ideas and start future projects.
But how do you get the most out of your meetings and make sure your ideas get off the ground?
When and where
Picking the best time to hold a meeting can sometimes be the biggest challenge. Try and find a time that is easy for people to commit to on a regular basis.
Most clubs meet once a week for 30-45 minutes. You might like to meet at lunch or talk to a teacher about meeting during roll call, assembly or sport time.
Ask a teacher to help your club find a spare room, or if the sun is shining you could hold the meeting outside.
Sometimes it can be hard to concentrate on an empty stomach, so encourage club members to bring some snacks or even make your own from the school veggie garden if you have one!
An agenda is a document which outlines what your environmental club should talk about in each meeting. It is a great way to keep your meeting on track and on time. Usually the club chairperson sends out the agenda outlining items to be discussed, decided upon and/or planned at the next meeting.
Roles and responsibilities
To ensure your club and club meetings run efficiently, consider assigning people official roles.
- leads meetings and introduces agenda
- keeps meetings on track and on time
- records notes from meetings
- distributes meeting notes to club members
- outlines actions from meetings
- manages club finances, including:
- helps with technical issues such as videos and websites
- communicates messages to the school and the wider community through:
social media, newsletters, announcements, etc.
- invites new members to join club
- ensures that people know when and where meetings are held.
Remember, not everyone needs to have an official role but it’s important to make everyone feel included and involved. Official roles can be rotated regularly so everyone gets a turn.
What to discuss in your first meeting
A good place to start is to discuss the vision and objectives of your club. For example, you could ask these questions:
Why are we here? – vision
What do we want to achieve? – objectives
How to we let people know about our vision and objectives? – create a vision statement or slogan.
A great way to start thinking about this is by creating a ‘vision board’. Get everyone in the club to cut out pictures from magazines that represent what a sustainable future looks like to them. Once you have cut out as many images as possible, stick them onto a big piece of paper and make it into a collage. This will help your club define what is important and what you should focus your attention on.
Although there are plenty of things you can do without money, it can help to have a bit of money to support your activities. Fundraising and applying for grants can be a fun way to raise money for projects and promote your club, but it is important to be clear about what you are fundraising for and why it is important.
Fundraising is all about getting creative and finding inventive ways to raise money. The process is easy:
- Brainstorm: Come up with a list of all your possible fundraising ideas
- Choose: Pick one or two popular ideas which seem the easiest and are likely to make the most money
- Design: Plan your fundraiser. What will you need for your idea? When will it happen? Who can help? Why is it important and who will it benefit?
- Ask: Seek permission from your school (usually from the principal)
- Advertise: get the word out to your school community through flyers, posters and announcements.
Some ideas for raising your own funds include:
- in winter, hold a soup or hot chocolate stall
- in summer, hold an ice cream or home-made lemonade stall
- plant herbs such as basil and parsley and sell the produce
- hold a market to sell second-hand goods
- hold competitions or raffles with an environmental prize donated from the school or local community
- film nights
- mufti days, where everyone wears casual clothes and brings a gold coin
A grant is a sum of money that your school can apply for to help you fund a project or initiative.
Why apply for a grant?
Applying for a grant can be a great idea if you have a particular project in mind that needs some money to get it started. But remember, the application process can be long and time-consuming, so it is a good idea to first ask yourself these questions:
Could we raise the money ourselves?
- Is there anyone who could donate the money, such as the school executive, parents and community committee or a local business?
- Would someone in the wider community help or donate materials for free
- Where to apply to for a grant?
The best place to start when looking into grants is your local community. Your local council, football club, Returned Services League or Rotary Clubs will often give out small grants ranging from $500-$2000. You can also apply for larger grants through the NSW Government or other bodies such as Landcare.
When applying for a grant, read the information carefully to make sure you fill in the form correctly. Don’t forget to look at the closing date and when the grants will be awarded to see whether the timing works for your proposed project.
Before you talk to anyone about the project you want funded, make sure you have practiced your ‘pitch’. Your pitch should explain how much the project will cost and how it will benefit the environment, the school, students and/or the wider community.
Check out the links on our funding opportunities page to see whether these grants are relevant to you and your project.
Choosing a project idea can be challenging but also very rewarding. This is where you get to channel all that energy and passion you have for the environment and make some real change!
Before you start, remember your project should aim to bring the school community together. You might already have some great project ideas but it is important for all members feel involved in the decision-making process. This will help everyone take ownership of the project.
Research – identify your problem
The first step to any great project is research. There are a lot of environmental issues that deserve your attention, so what should you research first?
The best place to start is your own school community. Start by doing some research and find out if there are any local issues in your area.
You can make research fun by:
- asking local organisations to speak at one of your meetings
- watching interesting Ted Talks, documentaries or short videos at your meetings
- asking a club member to do a short presentation based on their research.
Brainstorm – find a solution
Once you have identified the issue you want to tackle, a brainstorm session can be very useful. If you need some help with project ideas, visit our Project ideas bank.
Brainstorming is all about coming up with as many ideas as possible no matter how crazy they might seem! There is no right or wrong answer.
Discuss and write down all the possible ways you could solve the problem. Get creative, you can use a big piece of butcher’s paper and draw your ideas, make mind maps or make a collage.
Make a decision – get started
After you’ve explored all your options during the brainstorming phase, you then need to make a decision and get started on the planning.
Decisions should be made democratically, with all members’ views and opinions taken on board. If you need help making a decision, sometimes it is a good idea to ask a teacher for some guidance
The school executive is a group of senior staff members who are responsible for the management of the school.
Depending on the school, it is usually made up of a:
- deputy principal
- assistant principal
- subject or year/stage coordinators
- a parent/community representative.
It is important to gain the support of the school executive as they usually have the final say on what can and cannot happen on school grounds. They might be able to help you:
- fund a project
- get permission to hold a fundraiser, awareness day, or even build a garden
- get permission for eco club meetings to occur during roll-call or assembly
- support changes to your school canteen
- incorporate environmental education into the curriculum
Approaching the school executive can seem like a daunting task, but don’t feel nervous, remember they are there to help you.
Set up a meeting with them and make your pitch. A good place to start is to share your vision for the school with them. There is nothing more convincing than a passionate group of young people!
Making your pitch
A pitch is designed to persuade your school executive that they should support your project. The key to a great pitch is to keep it simple and straight forward.
When planning your pitch you should:
- Describe your project – see if you can do this in 30 words or less.
- Identify the problem that you will be fixing and why it is important to fix it.
- Outline your solution to the problem and what success will look like to your group.
- Describe how your project will benefit the school.
- Describing how your project will benefit the school is one of the most powerful ways of convincing the school executive to support your idea.
A few ideas include:
- making the school more attractive by reducing litter
- reducing electricity and water bills
- educating students about the environment
- bringing the school community together around a common goal
- building links with the local community and being seen to participate in the local environment
- exercising and developing leadership skills
- raising the profile of the school through entering environment awards.
- helping attract new students to the school.
Bring them on the journey
Help the school executive take ownership of your projects by involving them from start to finish. Invite them to meetings, ask for their input and celebrate the club’s achievements with them.
You will be amazed at how many teachers will want to help once they know what your club is planning to do!
Communicate and celebrate
Making your presence known is a great way to highlight the success of your group and to stay on the school executive’s radar.
This can be done by:
- thanking them for their support with a letter or a short story in the school newsletter
- making announcements at assemblies and roll-call
- celebrating project wins
- writing articles for the school newsletter about a topical issue
- making a short video about your achievements for the school’s website.
Sharing your ideas with the school community and promoting the work your environment club undertakes has a number of great benefits including:
- advertising upcoming events or meetings
- assisting with recruiting new members
- celebrating your club’s achievements
- raising awareness about a particular issue
- helping raise money for a project.
You can be as creative as you like, but make sure your message is clear. An easy way to do this is to answer the following questions:
- Who are you communicating to? Your approach will vary depending on your intended audience. For example, an article the school newsletter could be used to reach parents and Facebook to reach students.
- What are you talking about? Be clear about this. Are you talking about an event, a meeting or a broader issue?
- Where is it taking place? If you are holding an event, be specific. Will it be held on school grounds, if so where?
- When is it happening? If you are holding an event or a meeting, provide a time and date.
- Why is it important that people get involved? Will you be raising money for a good cause? Is this a serious issue that people should be aware of?
- Call to action: What do you want people to do as a result of your communication; i.e. come to your event, recycle second-hand clothes
The key to creating an engaging and fun environment club is that it is led by you, this is your chance to do things your way.
Make your club a place where people can have their voices heard and take ownership of issues that concern you by taking action.
Show fellow students and teachers that this is an ‘opportunity’ not an ‘obligation’ and that working together to solve environmental issues can be fun.
Below are some suggestions on how you can amp up your club and maximise your appeal.
Invite inspirational people from the community to speak at your school assembly, a club meeting or at a planned event about their area of interest. These people, especially environmentalists, are usually passionate about speaking with students.
Some examples include:
- the sustainability officer from your Local Council
- a zoo keeper
- an environmental scientist from a university or government department like the CSIRO, National Parks and Wildlife Service or the Office of Environment and Heritage
- someone from an environment group currently running a high-profile campaign
Environment clubs don’t have to stay inside the school grounds. If you know of an interesting environmental project or educational program occurring in your community, ask your environment club teacher if you can check it out.
Get involved with a local community organisation and see whether you can volunteer with them for a day.
Go to the National Parks and Wildlife Service website to get some ideas about beautiful places to visit for an excursion. You’ll need to talk to a teacher about getting approval for an excursion.
Celebrating big and small wins is important for many reasons, but mainly because it’s fun!
- throw a party after you complete a project
- hold a school assembly where you share your achievements
- reward hardworking peers with cool environmentally-friendly prizes
- write a media release and invite your local paper to do a story on your achievements.
Competitions are a great way to engage people, especially if there are prizes. Here are some ideas for competitions you could run:
- who can recruit the most people to the next meeting
- who can come up with the best way to recycle used goods
- who can raise the most money in a raffle.
One of the best things about being in a club is meeting like-minded people,so why not meet-up with other environment clubs?
You could host an afternoon tea at your school, or invite them on your excursions. It’s a great way to swap ideas, meet new people and build enthusiasm.
Your teacher might be able to help you, especially if they are part of a teacher network.
If your club has cool projects on school grounds that you’d like to share with others, you can invite environment clubs from other schools, parents or local partners to take a tour led by your members.
Running a club that looks fun and engaging entices people to take notice and join. Make sure new members feel welcome by keeping them informed about upcoming meetings and introducing them to others.
Well written objectives can facilitate a well-executed project. Clear objectives will also make evaluating your project a lot easier.
Evaluation of your project is important because allows you to assess how successful you were in achieving your objectives. This is extremely valuable for:
- applying for future grants
- applying for environmental awards
- persuading the school executive to support future projects
- informing future projects, determining what worked and what didn’t.
First things first, measurable objectives need to be S.M.A.R.T:
S – Specific. Be specific about what you want to do and how you are going to do it. For example, reduce energy consumption by 50 percent in one year by persuading students and teachers to turn off energy sources such as lights, power points, printers and computers when not in use.
M – Measurable. Can you measure your achievements? For example, comparing electricity bills at various points throughout the year would show whether energy consumption had reduced.
A – Achievable. Make sure your objective is achievable. Is it possible to reduce energy consumption by 50 percent in one year? Research whether your objective is achievable. For example, you could see whether other schools have achieved something similar or speak to your energy provider to see if your goal is attainable.
R – Relevant. Make sure your project is relevant to your club’s vision and goals. If you want to improve energy consumption at school, it may not be relevant to tackle an international project.
T- Timely. Create a clear timeline. Set key milestones for when each objective needs to be achieved.
To evaluate your project you can use simple tools. For example:
- conduct a survey before and after your awareness campaign to see how much students and teachers have learnt
- conduct interviews with students and teachers after completing your project to obtain feedback about what worked and improvements that could be made
- record feedback and provide recommendations in a short written report (this will be useful for your next meeting with the school executive).
Make your findings accessible by writing an evaluation piece for your school website or newsletter so everyone can see what the club has achieved.