Coaching eight to ten year old girls twice a week has really given me perspective on my productivity levels. These girls go to school all day, do homework, play on soccer teams, take dance lessons, music lessons, go to girl scout meetings, participate in Girls on the Run, and the list goes on and on… and still they manage to not only get more sleep than me, but also volunteer more in their community than me. One Saturday we had an early morning practice and one of my little girls told me that she’d already been up for three hours feeding the homeless. So by 9 in the morning, I’m two cups of coffee deep and still yawning, and this eight year old girl already has three hours of good deeds under her belt. Well needless to say, I was inspired to try to find more ways to give back to the community.

The next week at work I decided to make a proposal that all of Burton participate in some kind of community outreach activity with a local school. Well as it turned out, Staples had approached us with a similar idea a few months prior. On September 29th, 2012 the U.S. Green Building Council was hosting a day of service. The U.S. Green Building Council started a global movement called Green Apple that focuses on creating environmentally friendly schools. As a company, Staples is devoted to being a leader in sustainable business practices and spreading the word to other businesses and communities about making green choices. So they asked Burton if we would partner with them and help sponsor a local school’s project for the Green Apple Day of Service.

When they asked me to head up our efforts I was beyond excited. The first step was to try to find a local school that would be interested in participating. One of my fellow coaches at Girls on the Run suggested I contact Centennial High School’s Environmental Club. Their club has a very long list of awards and accomplishments that prove their dedication to sustainability and green practices in the community. When I emailed them to assess their interest, Julie Burroughs, a Centennial High School mathematics teacher and the Environmental Club sponsor, emailed me back immediately. Her email explained that not only were they interested, but they already had a project idea ready.

Five years ago, the dedicated students of the Environmental Club worked hard to create a school garden with the hopes that someday it could become an outdoor classroom. Well with Burton Energy Group and Staples’ help, Julie and her club knew that they would finally be able to make this dream a reality. She proposed that we spend September 29th helping her students build picnic tables that will pose as desks in their garden.

When September 29th finally arrived, our Green Apple Day of Service was a blast! Staples provided the T-shirts, lumber and donuts, while Burton provided the labor and the power tools. We worked from 9am until one in the afternoon and built four picnic tables. And sure enough, just like when I am coaching, the high school kids were bright and cheery while team Burton was two coffees deep and still blinking sleep out of our eyes.

During the day of service, the high schoolers had a chance to ask us about our careers, our majors in college, and any other questions they had about the energy industry. It was a successful day of learning and building. By one o’clock Centennial High School had a completed outdoor classroom, and my fellow Burton employees and I had a renewed inspiration to continue our outreach into the community.

Thank you so much to Centennial High School’s environmental club for giving us the opportunity to work with you. And also a big thanks to Michael Joseph, of Mosaic Group Atlanta, for designing the picnic tables and overseeing their production. I can’t wait to see Julie and all of her students again at their Outdoor Classroom dedication on October 24th!