White House Honors Environmental High School in Los Angeles

\n
During this June graduation season, the Environmental Charter High School festivities featured a particularly potent commencement speaker: U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
ECHS was one of six finalists (from more than 1,000 applications) in a national competition to have President Obama give the commencement address. Despite narrowly missing out to president, they received perhaps the more passionate speaker—Secretary Solis.
A seasoned environmental advocate herself (she received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000), Solis is a native of Southern California. And like ECHS, Solis achieved greatness despite her less-than-ideal conditions growing up. She was the third of seven siblings of immigrant parents from Nicaragua and Mexico.
Despite a tiny, humble size (450 students) and urban-backwater location (Lawndale, California), ECHS boasts one of the most visionary environmental campuses in the nation.The ECHS campus was designed as an interconnected system based on the principles of permaculture.
Campus features include: rainwater catchment systems, fruit-tree “vending machines,” organic gardens that supplement student lunches, an outdoor amphitheater made of recycled concrete, natural-material cobb benches, seasonal campus stream and wetlands, living fences, a bicycle workshop, composting and vermiculture (worm) stations, multi-material recycling collection points, biodiesel refinery, student-created murals, a floating laboratory buoyed by discarded plastic soda bottles, and a tour guided by student docents—all in an ultra-urbanized region of south Los Angeles.


\n
Besides a rigorous traditional academic curriculum, all ECHS students become familiar with environmental science, hands-on principles in sustainable living, and an extended learning outdoor education trip each year.
ECHS also hosts a “Green Ambassadors” program, which trains students in become young environmental community leaders. Their mission is “to educate and motivate youth, inspiring them to set a green example in their communities through open idea exchange and social action.” The Green Ambassadors were featured in Sundance Channels first season of the eco-doc series Big Ideas for a Small Planet.
ECHS also is ranked in top 3 percent of public high schools by U.S. News and World Report, received the Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Award, and the California Department of Education Service-Learning Award.

\n
During her speech, Solis recounted how a high school guidance counselor recommended that she “was not college material” and should “become a secretary like her older sister.” She followed his advice—becoming the first female Hispanic senior cabinet member in U.S. history.
Following in her footsteps, the Environmental Charter High School has also propelled itself from obscure origins to becoming a role model of environmental leadership, service and literacy.
Harold Linde is a guest blogger for Mother Nature Network and helped design the ECHS campus. Read the full post here. \n
Related Articles on Mother Nature Network\n
Photos courtesy of ECHS via MNN. \n
\n
Articles
Creative Commons

National Tell a Joke Day dates back to 1944 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was having a meeting with Vice-President, Henry Wallace. The two men were tired and depressed due to the stress caused by leading a country through world war.

During a lull in the meeting, Wallace said, "Frank, to cheer you up I have a joke I'd like to share."

"Let's have it, Henry," Roosevelt replied while ashing his cigarette.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" Wallace asked. "Not sure," Roosevelt replied.

"To get to the other side," Wallace responded.

Roosevelt laughed so hard that the bourbon he was drinking sprayed out of his nose and onto the floor of the oval office.

RELATED: A comedian shuts down a sexist heckler who, ironically, brought his daughters to the show

The joke was so funny, and did such a great job at lightening both their moods, Roosevelt proclaimed that every year, August 16 would be National Tell a Joke Day.

Just kidding.

Nobody knows why National Tell a Joke Day started, but in a world where the President of the United States is trying to buy Greenland, "Beverly Hills, 90210" is back on TV, and the economy is about to go off a cliff, we could all use a bit of levity.

To celebrate National Tell a Joke Day, the people on Twitter responded with hundreds of the corniest dad jokes ever told. Here are some of the best.

Culture

The Judean date palm was once common in ancient Judea. The tree itself was a source of shelter, its fruit was ubiquitous in food, and its likeness was even engraved on money. But the plant became extinct around 500 A.D., and the prevalent palm was no more. But the plant is getting a second chance at life in the new millennium after researchers were able to resurrect ancient seeds.

Two thousand-year-old seeds were discovered inside a pottery jar during an archaeological excavation of Masada, a historic mountain fortress in southern Israel. It is believed the seeds were produced between 155 B.C. and 64 A.D. Those seeds sat inside a researcher's drawer in Tel Aviv for years, not doing anything.

Elaine Solowey, the Director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, wondered if she could revive the Judean Date Palm, so in 2005, she began to experiment. "I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" Solewey said.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

There's been an uptick in fake emotional support animals (ESAs), which has led some airlines to crack down on which animals can and can't fly. Remember that emotional support peacock?

But some restrictions on ESAs don't fly with the Department of Transportation (DOT), leading them to crack down on the crack down.

Delta says that there has been an 84 percent increase in animal incidents since 2016, thanks in part to the increase of ESAs on airplanes. Last year, Delta airlines banned pit bulls and pit bull-related dog breeds after two airline staff were bitten by the breed while boarding a flight from Atlanta to Tokyo.

"We must err on the side of safety. Most recently, two Delta employees were bit by a pit bull traveling as a support animal last week. We struggled with the decision to expand the ban to service animals, knowing that some customers have legitimate needs, but we have determined that untrained, pit bull-type dogs posing as both service and support animals are a potential safety risk," Delta told People regarding the new rule.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Liam Beach / Facebook

Trying to get one dog to sit still and make eye contact with a camera for more than half a second is a low-key miracle. Lining up 16 dogs, on steps, and having them all stare at the camera simultaneously is the work of a God-like dog whisperer.

This miracle worker is Liam Beach, a 19-year-old animal management graduate from Cardiff, Wales. A friend of his dared him to attempt the shot and he accepted the challenge.

"My friend Catherine challenged me to try to get all of my lot sat on the stairs for a photo. She said, 'I bet you can't pull it off,' so I thought 'challenge accepted,'" he said, accoriding to Paws Planet.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Americans on both sides of the political aisle can agree on one thing: our infrastructure needs a huge upgrade. While politicians drag their feet on high-speed rail projects, fixing bridges, and building new airports, one amazing project is picking up steam.

The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is over 50% complete.

The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality.

Keep Reading Show less
Travel