Taking Care of Business

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to demonstrate to the learners that everyone has a responsibility to be good stewards of the land. They will gain a deeper understanding of volunteering and the opportunity cost involved.

PrintThree 45 – 50 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • define the words philanthropy and stewardship.
  • create and carry out a plan for protecting a natural resource area of the school or community.
  • reflect on the project after the completion of the service activity.
  • Various resource books about deserts
  • Any materials needed to make presentations (poster board, markers, etc)
  • Copies of Plan for Improving a Public Area (Handout One) for each group
  • Trash bags
  • Plastic gloves
  • School’s permission letter to travel off school grounds
  • Adult supervisors for service learning project
  • Camera (optional) for taking before and after pictures of the location
Home Connection 

Learners may invite parents/guardians or other classes to join them for the stewardship project. A class newsletter about the project can be created, compiling their letters and before and after pictures.



  1. Day one:

  2. Write the words Philanthropy and Stewardship on a display area. Ask: Who remembers what the word philanthropy means? (Using your time talent, or treasurer for the common good.) Ask: Who remembers what the word stewardship means? (The careful and responsible management of something.)

  3. Discuss with the learners ways that people can be good stewards of the land Ask: Why is it important to take care of desert regions like the Sanoran desert? (These areas are public areas that are used for recreation.They also contain valuable resources such as oil and gas, minerals, and vegetation that can be used for medical purposes, and are animal and human habitats.)

  4. Ask: Are there other areas that need to be taken care of besides deserts? (Parks school grounds, lakes and rivers- all our natural resources)

  5. Explain to the learners that they are going to look at how people can be good stewards of the land by researching public areas in their school or community that need attention. They will be volunteering their time to help with the project.Note: Before sending learners out to the school grounds or out into the community, be sure that you have arranged for adult supervision of each group and obtained any parent/guardian permission that is required by your school district.

  6. Ask: How do you feel about cleaning a public area in the school or community? Allow them to respond without judging their answers. Some learners may feel at this point that they don’t want to “clean up” after other people. Discuss why it is important for everyone to take care of public areas and that it is their civic responsibility to act for the common good.

  7. Ask the learners to brainstorm a list of public areas, both on school property and in the community, that are in need of stewardship.

  8. Discuss each area, what the needs are, if they could realistically help meet some of the needs. Come to consensus on one area or several areas where they could make a difference.

  9. Decide if the class will focus on one area or several. If several, divide the class into project groups.

  10. Explain to the learners that in order to have a successful project they will need to develop a plan.Using Plan for Improving a Public Area (See Handout One) have each group or the whole class develop a plan designed to improve the area that they have been assigned.

  11. Day Two:

  12. Allow groups to travel to the area that has been assigned to them. If learners are traveling to areas that are off of the school grounds the time for this activity will need to be adjusted to meet the needs of the teacher. Note: All groups should have trash bags and plastic gloves, or other safety equipment appropriate to the task. If possible, taking photographs of the before and after of the area is helpful.

  13. Day Three:

  14. Allow each group to share with the other groups what they have done to improve their area.

  15. Guide them to the understanding that it is everyone’s civic responsibility to help take care of public areas. (Picking up trash when they are in a park, telling someone if equipment is broken so that it isn’t a hazard to others, etc)

  16. Allow learners to begin their letters to next year’s learners in the class. They should include information about the activity, why it was important to do, what they can do next year to be good stewards and improve the activity, and what were the best parts of the activity. Letters should include some of the vocabulary words learned during the unit.Letters that are not completed in this class period should be continued for homework and returned the next day or class period.


Reflection: Learners are to participate in reflection discussions after the service is completed. Evaluation: Learners will write individual letters to the learners in the class to follow about their activity and tell them what to do next year to improve the activity and what were the best parts of this unit.

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will develop and implement a plan for taking care of a public area of the school or community. Learners will reflect on the project at the conclusion of the service learning activity.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Define <i>stewardship</i> as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.