Stephanie Bernal says her daughter, Isabella, has always been an environmentalist – and in her relatively short 10 years, Isabella has made quite an impact on the environment around her. And she’s just getting started.

Last year, the Moss Haven Elementary fourth-grader started the “Green Team” in an effort to reduce the amount of paper that was and is being sent home in the form of fliers and newsletters. She and three of her closest friends continued the program into this year. At an awareness campaign during the school’s 2008-2009 supply sale, Isabella says she signed up about 150 more students, teachers and parents willing to participate. Getting the initiative underway wasn’t easy, though – it meant getting to school early for 7:30 a.m. planning meetings.

Isabella also had to come up with a mission statement to highlight the club’s objectives. She decided, in so many words, on the following: turn Moss Haven into an eco-friendly school and convert the Richardson ISD; have all of Moss Haven live green and recruit fellow students to do fun activities, but most importantly to communicate electronically, via e-mail.

Bernal says her daughter’s ambition is no new thing.

“It wasn’t a surprise that it has extended this far. She likes making change and organizing her friends.”

And while it’s a lofty project, Isabella is backed by her peers and teachers. In fact, about the same time Isabella’s initiative was getting underway, teacher Kim Aman noticed that the blue recycle cans at Moss Haven were not being appropriately used.

“I noticed that our custodian was emptying the blue recycle cans directly into the garbage they collect in the classrooms,” Aman says. “I was told that if I wanted to start a recycling program, I was welcome to.”

Once the student and teacher realized they were working toward the same end, they teamed up.

Now, Aman sponsors Isabella’s Green Team, where members incorporate the effort to utilize the recycling cans properly.

“The first week we recycled, we collected one large blue can in a week, and the last week of school, we collected five large cans every day for four days in a row,” Aman says.

“This year, it is the responsibility of each classroom to dump their recyclables into the five large cans, which are around the school. Then my team empties them into the large recyclable dumpsters outside.”

Aman wants Moss Haven to be RISD’s beacon for recycling. She has counseled other RISD teachers, and the Green Team is gathering crucial data to get something organized in the district.

“The district doesn’t really have a policy in regards to recycling,” Aman says. “We are hoping to present our findings at a school board meeting if we can get all of our ducks in a row.”

When asked if she planned to take this to Forest Meadow Jr. High when she moves there, Isabella replied: “I will, and the biggest challenge is to find a teacher as great as Mrs. Aman that will help me.”