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Scranton woman honored for environmentalism

Rashida Lovely received a national award for her after-school programs teaching students sustainability.

SCRANTON, Pa. — There's an environmental revolution happening along the 1800 block of Jackson Street in West Scranton, and Rashida Lovely is leading it.

"To me, as opposed to a revolution, it's more like an evolution—an evolution of thought. I'm trying to make it part of the culture and not just something you think about after the fact. You know, it has to be part of your everyday living," Lovely said.

Rashida owns Newave Studios, a dance and performing arts school. It's right next door to her new business, 'Da Market on Jackson. 

Both places are busy on weekday afternoons when she is holding her after-school program.

But, in the backyard is where you'll find her background; Lovely is also a trained biologist.

"I'm an artist, I do that as well, and a scientist, and I always believed in merging the two," Lovely said.

Behind the building on Jackson Street is where she teaches her students to be sustainable. 

They grow their own vegetables in the summer and compost the waste from the market. 

"The kids learn how to grow food and, of course, flowers. How to forage, that's some of the things we're involved with, especially in the summer months. We teach them how to recycle, how to get to zero waste whether it be here or at home," she said.

Those are the lessons Rashida cares about the most. 

Her environmental education program has gained her some recognition. 

She was named the 2021 state environmentalist of the year and just last week received a national award from the organization "Black Women, Green Future."

But to Rashida, the best award is on Jackson Street.

"At the end of the day, my reward is seeing the kids' minds change on how to keep the environment healthy and themselves healthy. So, my impact on them is my true reward. Everything else is like gravy," she said.

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