The threat posed by climate change has motivated many towards reducing their environmental impact through seemingly small individual acts that, when multiplied by millions, can be immensely beneficial. But when individuals act not only on their own behalf, but drive change in others, the effect is exponential.
One Rensselaer, Indiana business teacher knows this well. This year, Mike Feagans and his class of marketing students have been teaching environmentally responsible behaviors to business leaders.
The Footprint Program, which Feagans and his students developed and presented to their local chamber of commerce this past summer, is a voluntary checklist of behaviors – using natural cleaners, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycling paper and cardboard – to which a business establishment can commit. Feagans' students check back later with the business and, depending upon the level of completion of those behaviors, award a bronze, silver, or gold decal that can be displayed in the establishment's window.
The Footprint Program has seen broad acceptance in Rensselaer: 18 businesses having already "gone green," and more are on their way, but the impact that these students are having doesn't end there.
In October, Feagans presented The Footprint Program to Ball State University's annual Business and Marketing Conference and to the teachers of the Indiana Business Educator's Association, many of whom will likely incorporate the program into their own curriculum.
Feagans' focus however is not so much on the potential for statewide impact, but on the change he's seeing in his own students.
"They're bringing these green practices back into their own lives and into the lives of their families and friends. Even better – they are developing lifetime skills by presenting to and following through with the business leaders."
Imparting lifetime skills to students is the reason Mike Feagans became a teacher to begin with. The freshmen and sophomores in his Business Foundations class use Practical Money Skills tools to learn about budgeting and investing. Feagans also uses the online budget calculators to teach kids how to save for college. The students prefer the games.
"The kids love Countdown to Retirement because it's a game. I like that it teaches them how to make good money decisions. After high school, some kids will go on to college and some will go straight into the workforce or the military. These concepts will prepare them for a better life, no matter where they're headed."