2016-2017 Environmental Leadership Award Winner: Academy of Technology and Leadership At Saticoy (ATLAS)

On Monday, April 17, 2017, in front of the Ventura City Council and in honor of Earth Day, the Academy of Technology & Leadership At Saticoy (ATLAS) Elementary School was honored for fostering the community’s sustainability and presented with the 2016-2017 Environmental Leadership Award.

“Environmental sustainability has always been important at our school,” said Jennifer Duston, ATLAS Principal. “As a leadership magnet school, we’ve placed a high priority on finding the leader in every child. Environmental leaders are vital to the sustainability of our community, and we’re proud at ATLAS that we have the necessary resources – a beautiful orchard and garden beds — where the children can research, explore, and receive a hands-on education about where our food comes from.”

ATLAS has gone above and beyond to put responsibility in the hands of the students. They help sort food waste at lunch, pick up trash around the campus, water the planter beds and make sure that the lights are turned off in rooms. The accumulation of these small deeds has led to big results for their school.


At ATLAS, students can get involved in a variety of eco-friendly practices. There’s a valet team, which teaches children about carbon emissions, making sure during the morning school drop off, the car queue runs smoothly.

“The school has recycle and trash bins in every room so that everyone is knowledgeable about what is recyclable and what is trash,” said Sara Viscarra, a teacher at ATLAS that helms the school’s public works programs. “Additionally, we have a team of students that pick up litter around campus and place it in the proper bin.”

“When it comes to planting in the gardens, the students really enjoy finding out about where their food comes, adds Viscarra. “They even dictated what types of vegetables they wanted to plant in the garden with some of the school’s Environmental Leadership Award winnings.”

To help the teachers and students with their thriving garden and orchard, professionals come to the school on a regular basis to teach the students how to plant, care, and compost.

Another unique program at ATLAS includes the Makerspace room. Whether it’s a classroom assignment challenge or a desire to be creative during lunch or recess, the Makerspace is a room that houses all types of recycled materials — from cardboard to wood pieces and a variety of sundry items — where the students learn to use their imagination and build things out of recycled materials.

“I strongly feel that it’s important to educate the whole child and let them have access to creative problem solving and learn positive habits confronting situations that they’ll be dealing with in real life,” said Principal Duston. “In turn, they’ll be better citizens for our city, our county, our state, and our world.”


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