By Marilyn Mosley Gordanier
Captain Planet was the first eco-hero. Many young adults remember the Captain Planet cartoons, in which the hero would exclaim, “The Power is Yours!” This educational series, which was co-created by Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle, delivered the message that individuals can be vehicles for positive environmental change. Since the series started, proceeds from the show and generous donations from the community have allowed the Captain Planet Foundation to fund grassroots school and community micro-grants.
I was recently invited to join Captain Planet Foundation’s Board of Directors as a member of its education committee. One of the organization’s cornerstones is funding school and community environmental projects for grades K – 12. Grantees have recycled over 12 tons of waste, developed outdoor classrooms and gardens, organized cleanups, restored acres of polluted land, and turned gas cars into eco vehicles. Since 1991, Laurel Springs has shared a similar commitment through our environmental videos, workshops, online courses, and virtual symposia series. Like the Captain Planet Foundation, our school’s focus has been to develop and support educational programs that enable youth to appreciate and improve the environment through learning experiences that engage them in active, hands-on projects.
On September 15, which was also the twenty-first anniversary of the cartoon series, I was honored to attend my first Captain Planet board meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. Laura Turner Seydel has poured her heart and soul into the Foundation and has gathered together a dynamic and dedicated board. As a way of connecting with the team, I read numerous comments on the Captain Planet Facebook site; these messages came from individuals and groups who support the environmental education mission of this organization.
I hope that the legacy of this organization will continue. The current generation of capable young adults has grown up with an awareness of the crucial need to safeguard our environment. With respect for the mission and a strong sense of empowerment, they are forming a new community of leaders. One comment on Facebook read, “We are the next teachers, the next doctors, the next senators, and have lived all our lives with the Captain Planet philosophy.” It is my hope that young adults will to mentor the next generation and encourage them to care for our shared environment.
During my trip home, I reflected upon how grateful I feel to be able to work with such wonderful, committed people who are focused on improving children’s lives. When we teach our students that giving back is an important part of life, we create a new paradigm for a healthy environment.
To learn more, please visit these websites:
Captain Planet Foundation
The Captain Planet Facebook page