Cultivating Environmental Leadership

Residents Forward is committed to reaching the youngest of our community members via the Port Washington schools, helping to deepen their understanding of the environment and the role they can play in protecting it. Our Cultivating Environmental Leadership programming is hands-on and minds-on; it aligns with curricula at each grade level; and it increases in complexity as students grow emotionally and cognitively. Each program is designed to open pathways to environmental leadership by enabling students to build environmental awareness, collaborate with peers, and apply their learning to the real world. It includes four areas:

Elementary Classroom Programs in Grades 1-5

The Climate Awareness Garden for Grades 1-12

The Youth Climate Summit for Grades 8-12

The Youth Environmental Action Group for Grades 9-12

Since these programs are funded by grants and individual donations to Residents Forward, this tremendous enrichment is provided at no cost to the Port Washington School District.

Elementary Classroom Programs, Grades 1-5


For most of our history, Residents Forward has proudly partnered with the Port Washington School District to offer environmental education in grades 1-5 at no cost to the district or to students. The onset of the pandemic forced us to put our classroom programming on hiatus, but we are pleased to announce that we are bringing it back to all five elementary schools in the 2022-2023 school year!

Our 45-minute to 1 hour programs will take place in classrooms, outside on school grounds, and at local parks around Port Washington, enabling students to gain a deeper understanding of the natural resources in their own community as well as the concrete actions they can take to protect them. 


  • 1st Grade: Gifts from the Earth explores the connection between gifts we receive from the earth (water, air, sun, soil), and everything we rely on to live, including our home, food, and clothing. Students learn to distinguish between renewable and nonrenewable resources and brainstorm ways to “thank” the earth for its many gifts.
  • 2nd Grade: Be a Friend to Trees invites students to consider all of the benefits that trees provide to humans and to the earth, as well as the importance of preserving this natural resource through recycling, reusing, and other conservation measures.
  • 3rd Grade: Baxter’s Pond Study is provided through a partnership with Alley Pond Environmental Center. Students take a field trip to Baxter’s Pond, where they learn about the pond’s ecosystem and see firsthand the need for conservation, protection, and waste reduction to minimize toxins in our waters.
  • 4th Grade: Did You Know Plants Have Veins? brings students to their school gardens or grounds to study common plants and delve into how their internal and external structures allow them to survive, grow, and reproduce in the presence of sun, air, soil, and water. Students learn about pollination and explore the environmental benefits of gardening and the connections between food choices, pollution, and climate change.
  • 5th Grade: Aquifers and Long Island takes students to Bay Walk Park to learn about basic hydrology and the origins of their drinking water. They take part in a hands-on activity illustrating how pollution gets into the aquifer from the roads and ground, how saltwater intrusion occurs, and how development affects rainwater recharge for the aquifer. They come away with concrete steps individuals, families, and communities can take to reduce water use and preserve our aquifers.

The Climate Awareness Garden, Grades 1-12


Residents’ commitment to the youth of Port Washington doesn’t end with Elementary school.

The Climate Awareness Garden is an after-school extracurricular opportunity for 1st throughout 12th grade students to get their hands dirty planning, growing, and maintaining a “square foot” vegetable garden.  The garden provides a perfect setting for exploring a range of environmental issues, including climate change, water conservation and protection, air quality, soil health, pollution prevention, and biodiversity. During the course of the school year, students of all ages gain hands-on experience producing food along with an understanding of the connection between food and climate, including the positive impacts of eating more locally, wasting less food, and consuming a more plant-based diet.

The program is designed to foster collaboration and cooperation. Middle and high school students have the opportunity to mentor younger students and develop leadership skills while elementary students get valuable experience learning in a mixed-age setting.

For more information, and to enroll in the Climate Awareness Garden, please contact Clea Bowdery, Environmental Education Program Manager, at

The Youth Climate Summit, Grades 8-12


On Saturday, March 18, 2023, Residents Forward will host our Third Youth Climate Summit–a free, one-day event that gives 100 students in grades 8-12 the opportunity to hear from environmental leaders, participate in workshops, and plan their own Climate Action Projects. The application for Youth Climate Summit 2023 will be posted to our website in late fall 2022.
In 2018, Residents Forward was proud to pilot the first ever Youth Climate Summit  on Long Island. The purpose of the summit is to empower students with the tools they need to think globally and act locally to address the climate emergency. Organizing an impactful summit takes planning–and we involve students and other community members in the process. Interested in serving on the Youth Climate Summit Planning Committee? Email

Youth Environmental Action Group, Grades 9-12


Residents Forward’s Youth Environmental Action Group provides high school students with a forum for leading local efforts to address climate change and other environmental issues like pollution, plastic and environmental justice.
Meetings are usually held Mondays at 7pm both in person and virtually. Email for more information.


We thank our Environmental Education and Action sponsors who have made these wonderful programs possible:


The Angela & Scott Jaggar Foundation, Inc.


Port Washington Community Chest