Parachutes for the Planet

As part of an Earth month project in collaboration with the EWEB Education Partnership, Eugene School district 4j students Pre K-12th grades from 15 schools contributed to the Parachutes for the Planet Project. Students were presented with the global environmental issue-Plastic Pollution. Groups came together for community painting sessions on the parachutes with themes focused on what they were learning in science and/or varying environmental issues, especially how plastics entering our stormwater system to travel to our oceans, as well as clean energy options. From there, each student was able to contribute an individual message and/or drawing getting their voices and feelings out regarding climate change, sustainable practices and simply caring more for our Mother Earth.

**Scroll down to see photos and read information from each participating school by region. 

Why Parachutes?

Saving the environment is vital to our health, safety and future, and parachutes are a metaphor for this process. Parachutes are safety nets and when held by groups during demonstrations or collectively displayed in large numbers, they transform into powerful messages of strength, hope and communal determination. Parachutes were displayed at each school site on Friday, May 11th. Students and teachers are excited to send the parachutes for display the parachutes in Washington D.C. in July, as well as later in the fall. The parachutes will become part of Mother Earth Project’s permanent collection joining others world wide.

Photos from May 11, 2018 School Site Displays:

Parachutes for the Planet google album

Churchill Region


Adams Elementary, 4th grade

Our 4th grade students at Adams Elementary have been involved with several sustainability activities throughout the school year. We participated in the Hope in Action Conference that was put on by Partners for Sustainable Schools. We have partnered with this organization, as well as, the Walama Restoration Project to create awareness around sustainability for fourth graders. This year, we had guests come and present to our class for several class sessions. An example of an activity that we were involved in was helping to recycle computers with the help of the Next Step Recycling group here in Eugene. We chose to participate in the parachute project because it fit in well with our study of sustainability. It was a fun and engaging way to create awareness around the ways that we, as humans, have an impact on climate change.   

   -Imelda Cortez, 4th grade teacher


César E. Chávez Elementary, Kindergarten

Hello World,

We were happy to participate in the parachute activity.  We work as a whole class to recycle properly, and limit/properly use the resources we are privileged to have at school.  We recently planted sunflower seeds as a learning about gardening and life cycles project. In Science we have learned about trees and worms. We draw and learn in our school garden.

We loved having our photos taken on the lawn of our school by a drone.


Mrs. Lynn Bridge’s Kindergarteners


César E. Chávez Elementary, Kindergarten  

My students had an absolute blast participating in parachutes for the planet! We compost all our food waste at our school and we are a green school so this was an excellent way to highlight. and talk about the ways that our students are working to take care of the earth every day. We have been collecting cans to plant flowers in for Mother’s day instead of buying plastic or cardboard pots in an effort to recycle and use more sustainable materials. We chose to participate to have another way to highlight how important it is to take care of the earth with our young learners.

-Erica Dunn, kindergarten teacher


César E. Chávez Elementary, Kindergarten

We loved participating in parachutes for the planet! We are a green school, so this was a great way to talk about how we use plastic and how we can help. The kids were amazed by the finished project, they have loved sharing what they know with their families. What a fabulous engaging project to bring awareness to our community. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of it!

-Tracy Reed, kindergarten teacher


César E. Chávez Elementary, 1st/4th Grade Buddy Classes

Our classes are First and Fourth-grade buddies! Chávez is a Green School in Oregon and our kids spent the month of April learning about ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. First graders had guest speakers come in from a local upcycling Art organization, MECCA. They learned how to make art from items that normally get thrown away. Fourth graders went to the Hope In Action conference, where they were able to learn from different local groups about ways they could make a difference taking care of the Earth. Our students were very excited to create this parachute together and to share their messages about why we need to stand up for Earth!

 -Kim Liebenberg, 4th grade teacher  and Heather Kehe, 1st grade teacher


César E. Chávez Elementary, 5th grade Classes

Because Chávez has been  a green school for so many years, students are very aware by 5th grade the importance of caring for our planet, using sustainable living practices and understanding where their food comes from. Every choice we make matters. Being the stewards of the school garden gives students a direct connection to their food waste, composting and growing their own food. This project gave them a platform to let their voices rise in the name of our Mother Earth.

-Kristin Strand, Maggie Cline and Amanda Dudley, 5th grade teachers


César E. Chávez Elementary, BEST After School Program

The Cesar Chávez Elementary School BEST Program consists of kids ranging from 2nd to 5th grade.  The program is multi-cultural in nature and many of the kids get super excited about doing group and team-related projects.  The Parachute Project has been no different 🙂  Kids in the program really enjoy employing and displaying their creative talents and there’s been a lot of excitement around working on the parachutes and supporting an initiative associated with sustainability and the earth.

-Asa Kline, BEST coordinator


McCornack Elementary, 3rd grade

We are 3rd graders from McCornack Elementary School in Eugene, Oregon. Our school and its surrounding community are amazing. Here at McCornack we work hard to be Earth friendly. We compost our food and other materials as well as recycle things here. We have participated in projects that require students to use recycled materials to create art . In Science, we have been learning about what plants need in order to grow and continue in their life cycle through hydroponics. We thought this would be a great project for students so they can see how their contribution makes an impact on others now, and into the future. 

Sincerely, Mrs. Mertz’s class


McCornack Elementary, 3rd grade

This parachute was painted by 3rd graders at McCornack Elementary School.  We are a neighborhood school in West Eugene.  The painting of the parachute fit beautifully with our science curriculum.  We studied Weather and Climate in the fall and Life Science in the spring.  The parachute was a great way to bring together some of the topics we had been learning about and create a piece of artwork related to our science learning.

-Heather Friesen, 3rd grade teacher


Churchill High School- Design and Thinking class

Our Design Thinking class at Churchill High School includes 27 students between the ages of 14 and 18. We used the Design Thinking stages of empathy, define, ideate, prototype and test to come up with our parachute design. We started by thinking about we love about the Earth and what is at risk. We ranked the things we felt were most important. From there, we came up with an insight. Even though we all need clean air, water, and soil to live our lives, it is the way we live our lives that threatens these very things. We put a image that represents mass consumption at the core of the parachute. Surrounding that, we put a layer of threats to our water, air and soil. Outside of that we created a layer of things we do to make a difference and clean things up. At the very outside perimeter, we painted depictions of the beauty of the Earth. Our mini message is “Positive Change.” It was a very collaborative effort and we all had fun doing it.

-Marty Wilder, Engineering and Information Technology CTE


Churchill High School-  Design and Thinking class

Our design thinking class at Churchill high school in Eugene, Oregon, was excited by the opportunity to collaborate to create our parachute! Each student had a part in designing and creating the parachute. We choose a melting earth as an ice cream cone as our center picture to communicate how delicate the earth is and short of a timeline we have to save it. Around the edges of the parachute, we wrote our individual commitments to the planet next to our hand prints. 

-Kristin Spangler, Math teacher


Churchill High School- Climate Action Club

We are the Climate Action Student Club at Churchill High School (ages 15-17).  We are trying to take action to help stop climate change and change the way people think about our planet. During our meetings we talk about current environmental issues and how we can work to change them for a more positive and sustainable future. This is our first year as a club, but we hope to continue to raise awareness, educate others, and come up with solutions to help environmental problems even more next year. We chose the theme “Get back to our roots” because we feel like it is time to return to more simple and sustainable ways of doing things.

-Erin Crews, Science/AVID teacher

North Region

Awbrey Park Elementary, 2nd grade

To bring ideas about caring for our Earth to a local level, and fitting for 2nd graders, we focused on learning about bees (and other pollinators) and how to care for them! We’ve learned about the crucial role they play in helping to produce so much of the food we eat. The ideas we talked about for how we can care for bees and our earth are to stop using toxic pesticides, plant more pollinator friendly flowers, and to inform others about these things! It was important for me to have my class participate in this project to expand their thinking about caring for our Earth and to have the unique experience of painting a parachute!! 

-Mrs. Christina Powell,2nd grade teacher

El Camino del Río  Dual Immersion Elementary, 1st/2nd grade blend

Our school is unique in that we celebrate all students’ language, academic and cultural strengths, and everyone is both a learner and an expert. We have been writing a play in my class about what ocean animals need to survive, and how human actions are making it harder or impossible to thrive, and how people can help. I am an educator with the intent of exposing students to the truth about their planetary ecosystem using a scientific lens, creating an intimate relationship with its diversity of inhabitants, and how they can take direct action to help global, national, and local leaders make better, sustainable choices.”

-Marcy Hellman, 1/2 blend teacher


El Camino del Río  Dual Immersion Elementary, 2nd grade

Our class we watched a couple of videos about the importance of water (H2O) and we went over how water is used and needed for (to grow a garden, for drinking, taking baths, showers, having fun (splashing), swimming, cooking, fighting fires, watering, washing, flushing toilets, of water and how without water we can not survive and the importance of becoming conscientious in conserving water.  We talked bout making sure that in our classroom we put trash and recyclables in the right receptacles. We did a writing activity where the students wrote and illustrated about how we can help conserve water and other ways to conserve other sources of energy.  We will continue once a week going over how to reduce our footprint so our impact is less negative for mother earth.  We will read a book called The Greenzys and do a few more lessons from an Earth Book for Kids by Linda Schwartz that contains activities to help heal the environment.  Each of us can have a positive effect in improving the current conditions and avoiding depleting mother earth resources if we are conscious that our everyday decisions either help or harm our planet whether we are conscious of this or not.  Having done the parachute artwork was a great opportunity to direct our attention to a very important issue we are facing as a society where we are all responsible and that we can do something to improve the situation.   I hope my students continue inquiring and develop a sense of one’s responsibility instead of relying on somebody else to do something about it first.  Earth is our home/hogar and it is up to each of us to take care of our planet if we want our current and future generations to enjoy it!

-Ghisleli Ramirez-Tate,  2nd grade teacher


El Camino del Río  Dual Immersion Elementary, 3rd grade

We are in a new building this year that has many sustainable features, like natural light options, water catchment and a school garden. Our school is working on becoming an Oregon Green School. Through the parachute project, 2nd grade students learned about plastic pollution in our waterways and ways to prevent it.  Many ideas and action statements came out of conversations. They want to make a difference!

-Zelene Flores, 3rd grade teacher


El Camino del Río  Dual Immersion Elementary, BEST after school program

Age Group: 6 to 11

Group: The kids were really excited to create pictures about the Earth, how to save the planet for the future and make it a better place to live.


“You are a wonderful member of the planet.  We need you for a better tomorrow

“La mejor herencia que podemos dejar a nuestras generaciones es amor, conocimiento y un planeta para que puedan vivir”

Pilar Zentz , BEST Coordinator

Howard Elementary   Preschool Promise Program

Howard Elementary’s Preschool Promise Program Has 17 amazing kids, ages 3-5, who are very excited about taking care of our planet!  Our students compost leftover raw fruits and vegetables daily, and have 2 spaces in our school garden that they care for.  We reuse materials for projects, recycle, and talk about conservation. Decorating a parachute to raise awareness about the influence of plastics on our environment just made sense.  We pre-taught a lesson using stuffed animals and plastic bags, containers and fasteners to demonstrate how animal can become entangled or stuck in them on land or in water.  That led to a discussion on where to dispose properly of plastics, and what we can do if we see plastics laying around or on the beach. We had so much fun doing this project together!  Thank you.

-Gretchen Baxter, Pre K teacher


Howard Elementary, 3rd grade

This group of 3rd graders has studied about weather and climate and our impact as individuals on a global scale.  In their classroom, they compost, recycle and reuse anything they can, whenever they can.  They understand that even one person can have a big impact on the environment

-Allison Kreider, 3rd grade teacher


Kelly Middle, 6th grade

Our sixth grade Skills for Success class was discussing careers when the environment came up. Some of the students are very passionate about environmental issues. We formed groups to work on a project around climate change, clean air, clean water, and waste education. They prepared presentations on why they cared about the topic and what they can do to make a difference. The Parachute for the Planet Project was a culmination of the environmental action project. Everyone created their own personal parachute and then we combined them together to create our class design. The students loved the art component to the project and many students who, in the past, have not been successful in school found a place where they can make a difference.  A group of students even wanted to get an environmental awareness group started at Kelly. They now meet weekly in my room at lunch. Thank you for this opportunity.

-Lara Kimball, 6th grade science teacher

Kelly Middle-BEST/GANAS

The BEST after school program is celebrating 18 years of success supporting students in the most need of academic and enrichment opportunities in Eugene School District 4J. Our Mission: In collaboration with community partners, BEST aims to engage youth in academic and enrichment opportunities that foster self-confidence, determination, a joy of learning, and a sense of community.

GANAS  is an after-school program for students interested in Latino culture. Besides homework help, students may do fun activities, like craft-making and dances. University of Oregon MeCHA students work with the Kelly kids on their homework.

Students from both programs participated in learning about plastic pollution on the planet and then worked together to create messages of hope for the planet on Tree of Life parachutes.

Jim Wilcox, BEST Coordinator,Fernell Lopez, Spanish Outreach

Madison Middle , Algebra group

We were a small group of 8th graders from Madison Middle School, made up of Algebra students and their teacher. We were all excited to use art as a means to share our concern for the earth and to work collaboratively on the plan and the execution of the plan. For many of the students, the commitment to sustainability began with Dr. Seuss’ book,  The Lorax, which is partially quoted and referenced on our border strip.

 -Jan Youngman, teacher


Madison Middle, BEST after school program

The BEST after school program is celebrating 18 years of success supporting students in the most need of academic and enrichment opportunities in Eugene School District 4J. Our Mission: In collaboration with community partners, BEST aims to engage youth in academic and enrichment opportunities that foster self-confidence, determination, a joy of learning, and a sense of community. Students participated in learning about plastic pollution on the planet and then worked together to create messages of hope for the planet on Tree of Life parachutes.

-Alyssa Loyd, BEST coordinator

Spring Creek Elementary, K-5 Life Skills

We dedicated the month of April to our earth, animals and animal habitats. We had a speaker from Nearby nature visit our class and talk about animals and their habitats in our surrounding area. We also took a field trip with Nearby nature and explored the plants and animals around the science factory.

Our class enjoys working on collaborative projects and this project was one that all skills and abilities could participate in. Thank you!

-Dena James, teacher


Spring Creek Elementary, Kindergarten

Kindergartners (5-6 year olds), recently completed the Parachutes for the Planet program.  Students read “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss and discussed ways to improve our planet.  Students also made a promise to be more aware of our recycling program and aim to have excellent ratings on our recycle bin in our classroom. Throughout the week leading to our art project students discussed ways to improve our planet during our class meetings and ways to incorporate better routines in our school wide recycling program.  Our kindergarten students enjoyed meeting our TOSA-EWEB, Tana Shepard, who helped us create our  parachute theme ” We speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues” a quote by Dr. Seuss in “The Lorax”.  We are looking forward to displaying our art work on our front lawn on May 11.  As a 4J educator I am thankful for hands-on projects that bring meaning to protecting our environment and bringing awareness to my students on the importance of our earth.  Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!

Rebecca Boyd, Kindergarten Teacher

Spring Creek Elementary, 2nd grade

We are a group of second graders from Spring Creek Elementary, Eugene, Oregon. The three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) have been part of Spring Creek’s culture forever. As we learned about why we needed to take care of polar bears, we spent three weeks on our research project – How to Take care of Mother Earth, as well. We learned so much more – conserve energy, make better choices, plant trees, educate others, and how small actions can lead to larger consequences. This project was a perfect opportunity for my students to realize how they can apply what they have learned in the classroom in the real world, and how they can make a big impact in their community and beyond.

-Fenn Guill, 2nd grade teacher

Spring Creek Elementary, BEST after school program

One of the many things the Students at the Spring Creek BEST /YMCA after school program have spent the 2017/2018 school year learning about is sustainable living. This year during our after school program they have explored the process of making their own butter and glue.  They learned about the local rivers and lakes and the things that pollute our water.  They practiced cleaning up an oil spill working together to find the best methods, or rather that there is no best method to clean up oil.  They learned about where in the world their food comes from.  Then learned about how to grow their own food and planted vegetables to bring home and start a garden.  They work every week with our community partners “Little Hands Can”  coming up with solutions for problems in the world today.  They cleaned up all the old lost game pieces and random things they found around the school and made “Assembly Art” that they sold at the school wide Art Show fundraiser.  They also participate every day in the school wide recycling program. Most recently they had the amazing opportunity to participate in “PARACHUTES FOR THE PLANET.”  They learned more about the earth, our water sources and how the keep them clean.  They also decorated a parachute that will be displayed at our school before traveling across the country to be a part of a larger exhibit.  They are working hard every day to make our planet a beautiful place. 

-Moira Carr , BEST Coordinator


Sheldon Region


Bertha Holt Elementary, 4th grade

4th Graders made this parachute from Bertha Holt Elementary School.  Our students raised salmon in our classroom and released them last fall.  It seemed only fitting that we have salmon on our parachute.  Our class has learned a lot about how vital it is that we all have clean water.  We have continued to learn about what we can do to help keep our water safe and clean for all creatures on Earth!

-Ashley Wolf, 4th grade teacher


Bertha Holt Elementary, 4th grade

We are 4th grade students form Bertha Holt Elementary in Eugene, Oregon. We work hard together to positively change our world.  We participate in Green Schools, School Garden Project, and study a lot about the salmon.  We chose a salmon theme for our parachute because they are an important part of our world. We care so much about our planet, and we are making an effort to make our carbon footprint smaller.  We know that even though we are only 4th graders…”Together we can change the world”! 

-Ashley Reich, 4th grade teacher


Bertha Holt Elementary, 4th grade 

My class of 4th graders in Eugene, OR had a fabulous time participating in the Parachutes for the Planet project.  My class consists of 27 students that are 9 and 10 years old.  We have spent out year together focusing on sustainability and respecting our planet.  We start the year raising salmon, working in our school garden, and actively learning about sustainable practices with a group called Partners for Sustainable Schools.  We have learned how each individual can make a difference in protecting our Earth’s precious resources.  We chose to be a part of this project because it was another way we could make our voice heard and convey the important message that we want to see a positive change and be a part of that change.  

-Lindsey Daggett, 4th grade teacher


Bertha Holt Elementary, 4th grade

Bertha Holt 4th grade students took place in the Parachutes for the Planet project. This school year we have had a focus on learning about our Earth and the impact that human’s choices have on our Earth. Our students participate in the School Garden Project program and Green Schools by Partners for Sustainable Schools throughout their 4th grade year. The Parachutes for the Planet complimented and supported our learning that we have been doing all year.   

-Mandi Robison, 4th grade teacher


Bertha Holt Elementary, 5th grade

My 5th grade classroom at Bertha Holt Elementary School participated in a sustainable Earth Day culminating art project.  We had class discussions, watched videos, and read books about what we can do in our classroom and community to reduce waste.  One of the highlights was going to the local receiving station to see where all of our trash and recycling goes. 

-Kim Hove,

5th grade teacher

Sheldon High, Green Club

Our parachute was created through the Sheldon High School environmental club, Green Club. It was designed by Darin Henry, and painted by myself, Jaden Bellamy. However, I had a little help from another student, Victoria Kennedy. I hope this parachute conveys the message about the exponentially increasing population that our would simply cannot sustain. I hope our parachute brings to attention the taboo problem of the connection between population increase and the health of our environment.

Sheldon High, Learning Center

The reason we chose the theme Feed the World Eat Bugs was because after watching the Netflix documentary Bugs, we felt that as the world population continues to grow we will need to find more sustainable food sources which will need to include insects and bugs.

-Kurt Goldenstein, Learning Center teacher


Sheldon High School Art Club

Theme: Keep Oregon Green.

We decided to focus our message on Oregon’s history of caring for and cultivating trees, one of the great renewable resources of our state. We used the image from Oregon’s license plate of the great Douglas Fir with mountains in the background. Around the outside edge it says: ‘Keep Oregon Green, Eugene, Oregon, Sheldon High School Art Club.

Art Club: Alice Adams, Liv Barnhart, Audrey Grossberg

-Nina Herbst, Visual Arts teacher


South Region

Camas Ridge, 2nd grade

 We LOVE art! Our school does two to three school wide art projects a year that are multiage groups. This includes an Art Walk for the families and community. We did the following: read several books about Earth Day, Recycling,Reusing and Reducing. Then, we brainstormed as a group what can be done in each of these categories. Students also had the opportunity to make an Earth with the rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle arrows, Earth Day pop art and reading and writing about all of the above topics.

     We chose to participate in this activity because we knew our students would love it, they would see how we can create art for many to see about reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink. It was a way to get involved in activities outside of our daily curriculum.

-Kathy Walker, 2nd grade teacher                                                                         


Camas Ridge, 2nd grade

 We LOVE art! Our school does two to three school wide art projects a year that are multiage groups. This includes an Art Walk for the families and community. We did the following: read several books about Earth Day, Recycling,Reusing and Reducing. Then, we brainstormed as a group what can be done in each of these categories. Students also had the opportunity to make an Earth with the rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle arrows, Earth Day pop art and reading and writing about all of the above topics.

     We chose to participate in this activity because we knew our students would love it, they would see how we can create art for many to see about reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink. It was a way to get involved in activities outside of our daily curriculum.

-Donna Dubois, 2nd grade teacher

Charlemagne, 3rd grade

Students at Charlemagne Elementary had a wonderful time being presented with the project, creating personal messages, and working in a collaborative environment to create such a large message.  The third graders came up with many good questions which incited conversation about how we can use less plastic each day. This project was a great opportunity to get young students thinking about how they impact the environment each day, to showcase students’ messages, and to think on a global platform.  The school display, local display, and then moving to the national display really resonates with students that their voice is heard throughout many communities and gets them excited to participate. Merci!

-Anou Hampshire, 3rd grade teacher


Kids Down South, Pre-K

Kids Down South has worked with BRING Recycling to educate preschoolers about the importance of their environment and to develop and understanding of how the Earth’s environment works.  Bring has come into our preschool, which serves ages 2-5, and explained how important worms are to the soil.  They have used recycled materials for making paper with the children.  The preschoolers get very excited when they know Bring is coming in to KDS.

To get ready for the parachute project we discussed ways that we effect the Earth, why the Earth is important to us, how our garden and newly planted tree contribute to Earth’s environment. 

We wanted to be a part of this project to show that no matter how young you are, you can learn about the world you live in and send a message and be heard.

Mindy Rimbey, Pre K teacher