Practical Nursing Graduate Introduces Green Living to Kindergartners

Jean Dresch conducts recycling seminar in Mankato school

As a member of the Operations Action Team responsible for actualizing items from the master plan of the DCTC Green Campus Commitment, Jean Dresch decided that she needed to bring her college’s message of climate neutrality and sustainability off campus to the youngest members of the community.

“I just put two and two together,” Dresch said. “I realized that children are the fastest learners and would make the perfect audience for a hands-on demonstration on recycling and going green.”

Dresch visited Dr. Ron Thomas, the president of Dakota County Technical College, to explain her mission and get the green light. Thomas had recently signed theAmerican College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, joining leaders from nearly 470 other academic institutions from across the country. He saw right away that Dresch’s green presentation would be a wonderful teaching and learning experience for everyone involved.

Jean Dresch

Jean Dresch

“Jean has done a great deal for our college,” Thomas said. “We are fortunate to have her both as a student and special ambassador for DCTC.”

Equipped with gift packages from the Office of the President, Dresch set off for Kennedy Elementary School in Mankato and the kindergarten class of her great nephew, Tyson Jeffrey. She had planned her mid-December visit with Kay Ekenstedt, Jeffrey’s teacher.

“Jean did a very nice job,” Ekenstedt said, “and the children were so excited to learn from her. She taught my students a lesson on recycling and taking care of our world. It was fascinating for the children.”

Kindergarten is German for “children’s garden,” which proved appropriate because one of Dresch’s activities included planting flower seeds embedded in program schedules printed on handmade paper from renewable resources. The programs were mementos from DCTC’s American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment Celebration, which was held on November 14, 2007.

“The kids filled empty pint-sized milk cartons with soil,” Dresch said, “and then planted paper scraps containing the seeds. My niece called me the next day to tell me that Tyson had jumped out of bed that morning expecting to find coreopsis and sweet alyssum in full bloom.”

Dresch reported that the children really took to the concept of recycling. They turned the mundane chore into a game, sorting an array of paper, aluminum, and plastic waste materials with gusto and flawless accuracy.

“Kindergarteners are only 5 or 6 years old,” she said, “but that didn’t stop them from seeing the importance of protecting the environment. If anything, their age made them more open to the ideas of conservation and preservation.”

A resident of Rosemount, Dresch received her diploma in practical nursing from DCTC this past December. She is currently studying for the Minnesota LPN exam. She plans to go on with her education and pursue a career as a registered nurse.

She believes strongly in the significance and viability of the DCTC Green Campus Commitment and was clearly successful in communicating the goodness of a green life to one Mankato kindergarten class.

Kay Ekenstedt, her great nephew’s teacher, later wrote to Dr. Thomas, expressing her excitement and gratitude regarding Dresch’s presentation. “Jean left our classroom with some very nice, earth-friendly gifts from your college,” she wrote. “I was so impressed with everything she did.

“Thank you so much for being concerned about protecting the planet and for spreading the word to others. Having Jean here really helped my students understand that each of us is responsible for taking care of our beautiful world.”