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Chester Jordan teacher honored by Fort Bliss for recycling efforts

Jordan teacher honored by Fort Bliss1    Jordan teacher honored by Fort Bliss2    Jordan teacher honored by Fort Bliss3

Before Mary Salas started working at Chester E. Jordan Elementary School in 2006, she knew little about being green.

Ten years later and Salas is not only known as the school’s environmentalist and Green Science Team coordinator, but she is receiving awards for her ecological work at the Team SISD school. The curriculum coach was recently named “Recycle Hero” by the Fort Bliss Recycling Program Contract Team.

“This is such an honor,” Salas said. “It’s funny because I wasn’t an environmentalist by any means until I came here. But it really opens your eyes to a lot of things. Simple things that you can actually do that make such an impact.”

Principal Jesse Sepulveda, who nominated Salas for the award, said when one thinks of green efforts and if you know Salas, you think of her.

“The two go hand-in-hand,” Sepulveda said. “She leads the school in that endeavor. She takes it by the horns and she makes sure that it gets done right. When kids leave this school, they are going home and telling their parents about our green school and our green endeavor.”

Salas and her Green Science Team of third, fourth and fifth graders share their ecofriendly message everywhere.

They give tours of the certified LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) silver school, conduct spot checks to ensure lights and computers are turned off, take care of the school’s vegetable and butterfly garden, collect recyclables every Friday from each classroom and place them in an outdoor collection bin, and give presentations at any environmental summit sponsored by local and state government groups.

“Our goal has always been the same: make sure everybody is an environmentalist,” Salas said “Spread the word.”

Laurencia Olvera, fifth grade, is one of those young environmentalists. She strongly believes the world would be a better place if everyone practiced being green.

“All the earth is getting polluted,” Olvera said. “There are not as many trees anymore. It makes me sad.”

At home, the youngster does her best to keep up the green efforts. She grows tomatoes, strawberries, peaches, jalapeños, blueberries and pomegranates. She also teaches her parents the importance of being ecofriendly.

“At first they only understood a little bit, so I had to teach them,” Olvera said. “But they know a lot now.”

She gives Salas the credit for her environmental knowledge.

“She is great, helping the school, helping the environment,” Olvera said.

Salas humbly accepts the accolades for Chester Jordan’s green mentality.

“It’s not a solitary award,” Salas said. “It is a function of the school, the parents, the community, the children, teachers. So much goes into it. It’s not one person. It’s just a group of people together.”

She offers one tip everyone can do to help the earth’s environment: walk.

“Cars are big emitters of carbon dioxide,” she said. “We need to get back to walking around the neighborhoods a little bit more. We are a community. You can walk to the park, to church or school. I find myself doing a lot more.”

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