Vol. 19 No. 1
Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality -Henry David Thoreau
In this issue...
Nature Area Open
In late 2010 we were delighted to receive a grant for $3500 from the Colina Foundation to develop preschool and early elementary curriculum and programming with the aim of educating young children in nature and outdoor exploration. A recent report by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) summarizes many studies that have shown how outdoor time and outdoor education in schools increases a child’s academic performance, learning aptitude, and even scores on standardized tests. It illustrates that children need more time playing and learning outdoors. A parent’s “go play outside” directive has become a thing of the past as children spend the whole day indoors, often “plugged-in” to media for 6-7 hours per day.
The NWF recommends that every child should have at least a daily “Green Hour” of outdoor time. They see “this as necessary for a child to be healthy, to care about nature and, increasingly, to obtain a good education.” Although this responsibility has generally fallen to parents, it seems that schools these days need to “step up” and assist in order to produce better educated students with stronger life skills.
Our Education Committee co-chairs, Bruce Jones and Courtney Solenberger-McNeill spent many mornings at Kathy’s Café discussing ideas, solutions and potential projects. With Superintendent Bill Eis, K-2 Elementary Principal Dr. Pat Nordstrom, Garden Club volunteers and the Fish and Wildlife Service Park Ranger an adoption of a multi-pronged action plan was made to provide children, families and community members an opportunity to get outdoors, interact, explore, play, and learn. Second Sunday interpretive walks at the Nature Area were developed to support this.
We’ll assist Annette Ader, a 2nd grade teacher at Parke Lane Elementary to develop, share, and implement a curriculum for outdoor learning. An important component of this will be the creation of a Habitat for Learning in the enclosed school courtyard.
We’ll also assist Madeleine Jones and the GI Garden Club to create a butterfly garden at the Centennial Farms and to develop, share, and implement a curriculum with teacher and volunteer training.