PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Natalie Decker’s love for the environment is a family affair. Her mom drilled it in her head since she was a little girl but it didn’t always stick.
“I kind of rejected the sustainable lifestyle for a really long time because I grew up right next to it. My mom was constantly shoving things down my throat and as a teenager I wanted to completely be opposite of what she did so I didn’t really like it until I figured it out on my own,” says Decker.
She’s all in now and for a second year in a row she’s the president of Beaches Go Green at Ponte Vedra High School.
“Now I’m the friend who’s pushing it on other people,” says Decker.
Natalie and the entire Go Green Crew are role models for the next generation and are even willing to go down for the cause.
Charlotte Martin, Ruby Lopez and Cooper Mayer are just a few of the 5th graders at Ocean Palms Elementary School who are putting together a presentation for younger students on recycling. They’re learning from the older students who are passing down the knowledge through storytelling. They’ve created videos to help kids understand how the decisions they make today are vital to protecting the planet. It’s created a circle of sustainability that these kids relate to and remember.
“If we don’t really recycle things go downhill really quickly bottles could pile up and landfills and fall into the forest and nature,” says Mayer,
“I learned that people need to at least try to recycle because they need to take care of the environment,” says Lopez
“I like at the end when they’re all talking about it’s great to tell younger students how to recycle so they can help the environment now rather than later,” says Martin.
Decker is heading off to college next year but believes this program is in good hands.
“It’s something that we can really rely on these younger kids because obviously we already made our mistakes there’s not really coming back from that unless we can change from the beginning and this is the new beginning that we have,” says Decker.