By Dave Andrews
As a sponsor, GEICO will contribute $15,000 annually over the next three years to the program that teaches students throughout Fairfax County, Va., about sustainability and renewable energy sources.
The Go Green with Gunston program uses Mason’s former athletics mascot, Gunston, as a sustainability community ambassador.
Gunston and a noncostumed educator visit Fairfax County kindergarten through third grade students who participate in the School Age Child Care (SACC) program. The two ambassadors guide the children through interactive lessons designed to spark interest in the world of science and the environment.
“We feel very fortunate and excited to have GEICO as the program’s sponsor,” says Traci Claar, Mason director of community relations. “This partnership will help us solidify a foundation of sustainability education throughout the region and allow us to continue expanding the program to reach an even wider audience.”
To get students involved, the program includes hands-on activities and take-home materials so that students can share with their families the lessons they have learned.
The program also features a family-friendly interactive website that offers information on sustainability initiatives.
“GEICO is pleased to be a part of George Mason’s ‘Go Green with Gunston’ environmental educational program,” says Joe Thomas, GEICO regional vice president.
He adds: “Mason’s award-winning program featuring Gunston is the perfect community ambassador to get the message across to schoolchildren and their families about the importance of energy efficiency and sustainable practices.”
The Go Green with Gunston program was developed in partnership with the National Energy Education Development Project. In its first two years, the program has taught more than 1,500 children and has been recognized with several awards.
Most recently, Go Green with Gunston received the 2010 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo), in partnership with the Fairfax County Office for Children. It also won a 2010 CASE III (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) Award of Excellence in the category of Institutional Relations Programs; and a 2010 Spotlight Award from the Virginia Recycling Association for the program’s logo.
Go Green with Gunston is part of Mason’s commitment to local and global stewardship. Mason President Alan Merten signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, and the university is developing strategies to become climate-neutral by 2050.