Environmental education

Vanessa Ellison, education coordinator in the Sustainable Schools program of Denton’s Sustainability Department

Denton’s plan to use 100 percent renewable energy isn’t the only manifestation of the North Texas city’s dedication to sustainability.

Student journalists’ “Greening Denton” project focused on the energy plan but also included the video interview below this text about the city’s complementary efforts in the field of environmental education.

Environmental education, according to Wikipedia, is a broad term that “refers to organized efforts to teach how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably.”

In this video, student journalist Desmond Smith, a member of the “Greening Denton” team at the University of North Texas, interviews Vanessa Ellison, education coordinator in the Sustainable Schools program of Denton’s Sustainability Department.

Ellison discusses the program’s efforts in Denton’s schools, its partnerships with other local initiatives and other activities.

Thanks to her encouraging interactions with students, “I’m not as concerned with the younger generation as I once was,” she says.

But the job has its challenges, even in a city like Denton, known for being environmentally attuned. “Sustainability is somewhat of a foreign concept in Texas,” Ellison says.


About “Greening Denton”

This is the fourth and final installment in the “Greening Denton” series, a collaboration between UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism and Texas Climate News.

“Greening Denton” was launched after the Denton City Council voted in February 2018 to make Denton only the second city in Texas, after Georgetown, to set a goal of using 100 percent renewable energy.

But there was a catch: A new natural gas-fueled power plant is part of the plan for the city of 136,000 residents north of Dallas-Fort Worth. Natural gas is promoted as cleaner-burning than other fossil fuels. It’s also environmentally contentious because of impacts ranging from local air quality to global warming. Debate rages, for instance, about whether its use helps or hinders efforts to reduce climate-warming greenhouse emissions.

Students in the Mayborn School’s Spring 2018 senior news capstone class set out to learn what the city’s plan might mean – for local air quality, for Texas energy and for Denton’s progressive image.

The students worked under the direction of Mayborn lecturer – and Texas Climate News senior editor – Randy Lee Loftis. The students: Matt Berger, Jake Cramer, Andrea Czobor, Avery Dufilho, Julia Falcon, Brady Keane, Bethany LaChance, Brianna Lopez, Clay Massey, Colin Mitchell, Julian D. Perry, Alexandria Reeves, Derek Siler, and Desmond Smith.


“Greening Denton” – first three installments

Denton strives for 100 percent renewable power

Does natural gas fit with ‘100 percent renewable?’

Fracking, coal, batteries and the future of fossil fuels