Presidio Library’s ‘Climate Crew’ reading program teaches kids to care for the environment

Braydon Finley participates in a palm painting project to celebrate the end of the library’s summer reading program.

PRESIDIO — Last Friday, the Presidio Public Library threw a party for youngsters who had finished this year’s summer reading program. Parents and city officials shared pizza and sweet treats with the kids, who were eager to share everything they’d learned over the past week and the projects they’d completed together.

This year, the library’s summer reading program focused on environmental issues. The kids became part of the “Climate Crew,” learning new ways to take care of the planet while flexing their creative muscles and making new friends. Each day, they tackled a different book and completed fun projects to help drive the lessons home. 

The project was led by Ramon Rodriguez, Laisa Arevalo and Evelyn Renteria, representatives from Presidio’s own Project Homeleaf. Over the past few years, Project Homeleaf has helped maintain the city’s recycling center, plant trees around town and spread awareness about environmental causes. 

Rodriguez has helped with the summer reading program in various capacities since he was in fifth grade. This summer — right after his high school graduation — he decided to put his interest in child development and K-12 education to the test by designing an innovative curriculum.

The three teen activists led the kids through activities like exploring the library’s garden and playing games that helped them determine which human habits can be good or bad for the environment. On Wednesday, the kids capped off their studies by helping celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Presidio Public Library. 

As the name implies, the summer reading program centers around books. One of Rodriguez’s favorites was The Carrot Seed, a kids’ classic by Ruth Krauss. 

In The Carrot Seed, a young boy plants a seed that doesn’t seem to be growing. Friends and family tell him that the seed won’t grow, no matter what he does. Despite feeling discouraged, the boy continues watering and taking care of the seed — until one day the seed grows into a giant carrot. 

Rodriguez tied the story to a seed-planting activity. “I wanted them to connect to [the book’s] message and think about it, so that they could understand the value of believing in yourself and never giving up no matter who says what and what’s thrown at you,” he said. 

Friday morning, the kids took in a presentation about careers related to environmentalism and practiced lining up for an awards ceremony. Their enthusiasm was contagious as they showed off their skills and recapped everything they’d learned. 

Participant Liam Pohl said that he really liked the program’s artistic activities — the kids tie-dyed matching shirts and also made a painting out of their palmprints. Funding for program supplies came from the Presidio Municipal Development District.

Pohl came away from the program with lots of advice for other Presidians interested in caring for the planet. “You have to clean up and recycle,” he said. “And every time you drop trash, you have to pick it up.”