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Southwest Airlines Community

Helping Students Build a Recycling Legacy


As part of Earth Month, Southwest Airlines is highlighting its impactful partnership with EcoRise and their mission to advance environmental literacy, sustainable schools, and equitable access to green career pathways.


One way Southwest supports EcoRise is by providing air travel for teachers to attend the Teacher Ambassador Summer Institute. The Institute provides teachers the opportunity to meet other educators, collaborate on sustainability ideas, and learn from the EcoRise Team.


Teacher Ambassadors are making a difference in their schools and communities, and Southwest is proud to play a part in their EcoRise experience and journey to activate the next generation of sustainable leaders.


The following was guest authored by Nina Acevedo, a third through eighth-grade math and science teacher at PS/IS 192 in New York City, The Magnet School for Math and Science Inquiry.


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I’m passionate about looking for ways to help students get involved in caring for the environment. Becoming an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador helped me join a community of teacher leaders who share my passion for making a difference through education and the environment.


Southwest partners with EcoRise to support their mission to spread awareness about K–12 environmental education across the country. As an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador, Southwest’s support helped me travel to Austin, Texas for the EcoRise Summer Institute—a three-day professional development summit specifically designed for teachers.


During the Institute, I learned leadership skills and met other Ambassadors who are also passionate about impacting their schools and communities through sustainability initiatives and learned more about the projects their students are implementing. Southwest made it easy for me to travel and get the most out of the experience.


The EcoRise staff offered guidance on lessons I use to teach my students about the environment throughout the school year. I also learned how to participate in EcoRise’s Eco-Audit Grants, which challenge students to collect and analyze environmental data, identify an issue in their school or community, design a solution, and bring it to life. After attending the Summer Institute, I was able to officially become an EcoRise Teacher Ambassador, which has helped me grow as a teacher.


All that I’ve learned and the support I continue to receive from the Ambassador Program helped me start a Green Team with the seventh and eighth graders this year. Together, we worked to improve the school’s recycling program.


Thanks to the student’s ideas and the Eco-Audit Grant funds, we now have recycling bins on every floor of the school, and we work together with the afterschool programs to make sure the recycling gets from the school to the proper dumpster. The Green Team has even taken the initiative to provide learning opportunities to younger students by visiting their classrooms and hosting assemblies to teach students about the importance of recycling. 


The students are growing their impact as change-makers by teaching the younger students and encouraging them to continue the recycling program when they move on to high school. I am very grateful to Southwest for being part of the journey to bring these ideas to life, and I can’t wait to see our recycling program grow! 

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