This year, we piloted a program called P.O.W.E.R. which was an acronym for Peer Outreach With Energy Resources. The program was created as a partnership between Audubon Naturalist Society and the Department of Environmental Protection and we worked with six high school students. Find out more about the program from the perspective of one of the students.
My name is Hannah Riley and I’m a sophomore at Walter Johnson High School. Last fall, I heard about the Peer Outreach With Energy Resources (P.O.W.E.R.) program through the Walter Johnson High School newsletter. The program provides Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) high school students the opportunity to train with professionals in the environmental world, specifically in the energy field to give presentations for elementary school children on how to save energy as part of the library summer reading program. This year the program was run by Larissa Johnson of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and Diane Lill of the Audubon Naturalist Society.
Back in October, me and about five other students from other MCPS high schools started attending Sunday afternoon training sessions, where we learned about ways to save energy in our homes and the county resources available to help residents make their homes more energy-efficient. We then helped Ms. Johnson and Ms. Lill draft the script for the summer presentations. The other students were very driven and it was so exciting to work with them because I could feel their energy rubbing off on me. I’m used to being around kids at school who mindlessly plug through the day because they’re being forced to, but the other POWER students were just the opposite because they actually wanted to be there and they truly cared about saving energy. After memorizing the script and practicing it several times, we were finally ready to present.
On our way to the first presentation, Ms. Johnson reminded me and my partner for the day, Niki, to personalize the script by adding fun little things along the way to make sure the kids stayed engaged. I was pretty nervous, but Nikki and I were able to smooth over some of the rough edges of the presentation and I think we did a pretty good job of keeping the kids focused the whole time. After each presentation I got more comfortable and confident talking in front of a crowd of strangers, and by the end of my fifth presentation I was having a lot of fun interacting with the kids. I noticed that small children aren’t very self aware. It was so interesting to watch as they said whatever came through their brains without a hint of self-consciousness. I signed up for the POWER program back in October because I wanted to do something productive with my free time over the summer, but I had no idea I’d have so much fun working with the other students interacting with the kids at our presentations.
I’m so lucky that I got to work on this amazing team and I hope the kids who went to our presentations are using less energy now than they were a few months ago!