More than 600 students at Tussing Elementary School are in the midst of a "Go for the Green Campaign" aimed at making a positive impact on their communities through conservation and environmental education.

More than 600 students at Tussing Elementary School are in the midst of a "Go for the Green Campaign" aimed at making a positive impact on their communities through conservation and environmental education.

The program, now in its third year, was initiated by Tussing parent Christy Radanof, who said she hoped to teach environmental conservation to students through small projects and short lessons teachers could fit into classroom down time.

"It's an eight-week campaign," Radanof said. "Our goal is to empower the kids and teach them it only takes one person to make a difference.

"I just noticed there was not a lot of emphasis on Earth Day, and I thought that was a holiday that really needs to be emphasized because we're leaving the planet to our children."

This year's "Go for the Green Campaign" at Tussing Elementary started on March 1. Through the program, which will culminate April 23, the day after Earth Day, teachers periodically fit five-minute lessons into the school day related to energy conservation, recycling and other environmental efforts that individuals can engage in.

The "green" lessons are taken from a resource manual Radanof compiled. It uses everything from mathematics problems to worksheets and board games to show students how they can contribute to environmentalism.

"It allows teachers to have something for them to do that also has a purpose," she said. "It also shows them these are very simple things they can do.

"I want it to become something they don't really think about -- things like planting a tree, recycling or turning off lights they're not using. If we all do these little things, the impact in our own community and on the planet can be huge."

As part of the program, each student promised to remain true to the campaign's theme, "Decide, Do & Share." They sent the oaths to Pickerington schools Superintendent Karen Mantia, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, President Barack Obama and Dr. Wangari Maathai, the first African American Nobel Peace Prize winner for environmentalism.

Each Friday, the students also bring plastic bags they've collected at home to school to be recycled.

Last year, the effort brought in more than 12,000 plastic bags. This year, students are hoping to surpass that mark and have challenged students at Harmon Middle School to see who can collect the most plastic bags for recycling.

"We're not even halfway through but we're up to 10,386 bags," Radanof said.

Before the initiative concludes, "green" ambassadors from Tussing Elementary plan to apply for a Presidential Environmental Youth Award. They also are discussing Earth Day activities. The campaign will culminate April 23 with a visit and environmental presentation by Keep Columbus Beautiful.

"We always do end with some sort of gift for the students that aims to let them do something environmentally oriented at home," Radanof said. "In the past, we've given them tree saplings or seeds to plant.

"I wouldn't call myself necessarily an environmentalist," she said. "I'm a parent that wants the best for her kids. It starts with where we live and I wanted something that would make their lives better.

"It was all about looking ahead and looking at where we are headed for our kids."

nellis@thisweeknews.com