THMS’ Sustainability Workshop 2017

Angelina Valenzuela, Head of Writing Department & Sustainability Reporter

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Walking past the 6th street bus bay, one is immediately met by concrete.

Enter the gate and the monotone pallet of monsoon storm clouds, spotted with gum from years and years of students missing the trash can.

“You see how much concrete there is out in the mall area,” Tamara Larson, THMS Anatomy and Plant Biology teacher said. “We’re just going to green that area up– bring some kind of life to it.”

Larson and a handful of teachers from the art department have discussed the creation of small ‘park-lets’– pop-up parks around campus.

Students can expect to see a little vegetation and campus decor–a tree here, a small hedge there.

On Jan. 26 and 27, a group of 38 teachers from all over Arizona–including five teachers from THMS– gathered for the very first time at the ENR2 building at the University of Arizona and the THMS Garden.

In past years, the Sustainability Teachers’ Academy (STA) has been held in other locations around Arizona, but this year was its first time in Tucson.

The STA is part of the ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives, which is a program that annually brings teachers together statewide, nationwide, and globally to develop a pathway to bring sustainability concepts to their schools and communities.

THMS Biotechnology teacher, Jeremy Jonas, partnered with TUSD/UA School Gardening Coordinator Moses Thompson, to hold the STA here in the Tucson area.

According to, Thompson founded the Manzo Ecology Program and garden for students’ social and emotional need.

“He’s joint appointment at the UA and TUSD as the position for school gardens; he helped us tremendously with our school garden,” Jonas said.

Jonas explained that Thompson helped purchase material and equipment for the garden, seeds, and irrigation tools.

STA was packed with visits to the ENR2 building at the UA, food cooking demos with fresh produce that was harvested from multiple TUSD school gardens. A lecture about medicine and food resource from our Sonoran desert, was also presented.

THMS Anatomy and Plant Biology teacher, Tammy Larson, attended the STA, hoping to gain some ideas to bring back to her students.

Larson explained how she really enjoyed the lecture on the first day called, “Sonoran Supermarket,” that was presented by Jesus Garcia, an Ethnobotanist from the Sonoran Desert Museum.

“It’s really cool to see all the different things that you can eat that’s in the desert, that I didn’t think you could eat,” Larson said.

The second day agenda was focused around the THMS garden–five stations were set up with demos of composting, pollination in the desert, native seed information, desert ecology, and creating solution projects for sustainability at your school.

THMS Marine Biology teacher, Dr. Elena Martin, joined the Academy for the second day while the group was at the THMS garden.

Martin is one of the main founders of the THMS garden and wanted to be present to answer any questions that they may have had about the garden, and check out what events were taking place.

“They had a really diverse set of topics that they addressed, and they all related to things that we can bring back to our classrooms or school community,” Martin said.

Following the two day workshop and training, participating teachers are considerable candidates for stipends worth $300 to help fund sustainability projects that they create and plan with their students, and propose it to the ASU Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives.

At last year’s STA, Jonas was awarded with two stipends that helped purchase carts to transport recycle bins from classroom to recycle dumpsters, and chicken feed, chickens, and tools to construct the chicken coop located in the THMS garden.

“Say you don’t have a recycling program at your school, and you need something as simple as the bins or educational presentations about recycling, you could use the money just for that,” Jonas said.

Jonas explained that this year he plans to include lessons about how humans rely too heavily on biodiversity of food and resources in his biotech classes.

Candidate teachers were not only pushed to emphasize these sustainable ideas into their classrooms, but also throughout their communities.


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THMS’ Sustainability Workshop 2017