In today’s age of increasing dissonance related to environmental issues, it can be hard to advocate for widespread policy and lifestyle changes. Julie Novak, who works for a clean water advocate group called TenneSEA, has noticed this disparity and is doing her part to influence the future by getting kids from local public schools excited about keeping the environment clean, and getting them involved.
Yet, why is it important that these values are instilled in children? According to Mrs. Novak, “We are to a place in our society that environmental issues are critical to our health, home and happiness. If good “environmental habits” are established by children they are much [more] likely to adopt them later in life. They also can make such a difference in effecting their peers and parents.”
Julie Novak holds a bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Development, as well as a Masters in Education, which really emphasizes how well she does with children in specific. Throughout the week, Julie Novak led “stream teams”, groups of kids from Signal Mountain Public Schools who are interested in keeping the earth clean, out in to the woodlands of Prentice Cooper State Park to clean up trash.
This is just a part of what Mrs. Novak does; she is also working with students from Red Bank Elementary on an erosion prevention project. There is a stream behind the elementary school that is especially susceptible to erosion due to being next to a large parking lot, and a team of students are partnering with the Chattanooga Engineering Group as well as TenneSEA to figure out a way to fix it and prevent future erosion from occurring.
When she is not working with these teams of motivated kids, she spends her time educating them about the science of it all. Her work also extends to her own home.
Julie Novak is a passionate mother, and her yearning to do her part in keeping soil and water clean, also stems from her love for her children. She said, “I have 2 kids of my own and want them to have a safe, clean home to grow up in. We have a creek in our back yard and I want them to be able to play in it safely. We love being outside, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating . . . and want to have clean, safe places to enjoy these things.”
About the Storyteller
Get These Darn Kids Outside! was photographed and written by Benjamin Wilt. This story was created in COMM 3700, Photojournalism 1, during the Fall 2017 semester.
Benjamin Wilt is majoring in Communications and minoring in Environmental Science and expects to graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with his Bachelor’s degree in May 2018.
Copyright 2017, Benjamin Wilt, all rights reserved.