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 have brought it back to all five elementary schools in the 2022-2023 school year!

The following programs 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.
  • Life Cycle of a Backpack, a 45 minute program for first graders, explores the connections between water, air, sun, and soil and everything we rely on to live, including our homes, belongings, food, and clothing. Students learn to distinguish between renewable and non-renewable resources and brainstorm ways to be good stewards of natural resources.
  • Tree Heroes, an hour-long program for second graders, delves into the process of photosynthesis while explaining the benefits that trees provide to the earth and to humans, challenging students to come up with concrete ways to better conserve and protect trees as a natural resource.
  • Baxter’s Pond Study, an hour-long program for third graders, is provided through a partnership with Alley Pond Environmental Center. Students take a field trip to Port Washington’s Baxter’s Pond, where they learn about the pond’s ecosystem and see firsthand why we need to be so diligent about recycling and minimizing toxins in our waters.
  • Did You Know Plants Have Veins? is an hour-long program in which fourth graders visit their school’s garden. Through observation of the elements of a garden–soil, plants, water, air, and the sun–students learn that plants have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction. They explore the environmental benefits of gardening related to pollination as well as the connections between food choices, pollution, and climate change.
  • Every Drop Counts: Long Island Aquifers is an hour-long program in which fifth graders travel to Bay Walk Park in Port Washington 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 January 2023.
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.


Community Chest of Port Washington