The Columbus Jewish Day School received a visit March 20 from Nigel Savage, an internationally recognized environmental educator who encouraged the school's sixth-graders to be good stewards of the earth.
Savage founded Hazon, which means "vision" in Hebrew, in 2000. The organization works "to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for all," according to the organization's website.
"It was really inspiring to visit the school," Savage said. "What I especially loved is the way that Jewish studies, 'secular' studies and a physical engagement with the world have been so well integrated.
"It's not a minor thing -- I think it's significant and important."
Gina Freeman, dean of students at Columbus Jewish Day School, said Savage's visit highlighted some of the school's curriculum, which teaches students that part of being a Jewish person and learning about Jewish identity is "to go beyond the self and care for those in need in the community."
One way students are taught to help others is by planting three vegetable gardens at the school, starting seeds in the classroom that are transferred outdoors in the spring
Freeman said the students harvest the vegetables and will provide salads in May for homeless people staying at the Ohio State University Star House, a shelter for at-risk youth and teens.
Freeman said science is a large part of the students' work in the gardens.
Rachel Hillman, marketing director for the Columbus Jewish Day School, said students learn other aspects of sustainability and nature in the school's seven-acre WILD site, a designation earned through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Hillman said the site includes a butterfly garden, a pond and a stream, where students regularly study fish and microscopic life.
Freeman said the sixth-graders prepared for Savage's visit by working with general studies teacher Shanna Lipp and Judaic studies teacher Eva Tabor to learn how Savage's work has affected the international community.
Hazon was recognized in 2008 by the Sierra Club as "one of 50 leading faith-based environmental organizations" and Savage has been named a member of the "Forward 50, an annual list of the 50 most influential Jewish people in the United States," according to the Hazon website.
"It's good for the students to hear from people who've had that kind of impact," Freeman said.
The Columbus Jewish Day School has 100 students from central Ohio, including Bexley, Clintonville, Dublin, Grove City, Olentangy and New Albany.