Monday, October 12, 2015

Engaging in Environmental Education!

One of my main responsibilities as the AmeriCorps intern for Cascadia is to provide environmental education in the district’s local schools. Depending on a teacher’s schedule and planned curriculum, I get to spend anywhere from 1-5 hours with a group of students aged 5-12. In that time I have the opportunity to shape our valley’s young people’s understanding of ecosystems and help them understand the ways in which humans can influence those ecosystem functions. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly, especially in a time where funding for education is getting tighter and the need for a society with an understanding of our planet’s functions and needs is becoming direr. And fortunately, through Cascadia’s partnerships with other organizations and conservation districts, I have access to fun, free science curriculum that incorporates hands-on learning opportunities in every lesson.

Water on Wheels Lessons
The main curriculum that I teach is called Wheat Week. This is a five day program created by the Franklin Conservation District (FCD). Wheat Week uses the wheat plant as a tool to educate 4  th and 5th graders about systems, water, soil, pollution, and energy. During this week, students get to build their own terrariums and grow a wheat plant, experience the water cycle as a water droplet, investigate the different types of soil, create a watershed model, and thresh a wheat plant. Another program I teach, also created by FCD, is called Water on Wheels. This program consists of eight different lessons, which can be taught as a series or individually depending on a teacher’s needs. These lessons educate students, in varying levels of depth depending on their grade level, about soils, the water cycle, animal habitats, and watersheds. Each lesson involves a different science experiment, game, craft, or environment model. All of the FCD’s curriculums meet a number of science and social studies Washington State learning standards. They also incorporate GLAD strategies. GLAD – which stands for Guided Language Acquisition Design- is a program that originated in California and is in its first phase in the Wenatchee School District. It strives to “promote an educational setting that produces effective, literate citizens of a global society.”

I also have opportunities to work with local schools at events like Salmon Fest where we host the Rolling Rivers exhibit, at the Wildfires & Us Field experience put on through the Wenatchee Valley Museum, and at Kids in the Creek where we work with our partner agencies to get kids outside in the Entiat River doing science. Additionally, I coordinate Native Planting 101 (planned for March 5th, 2016!) a workshop open to the public, where anyone of any age can come and learn about effective landscaping and plant care in the Wenatchee area.  

My week of in-class training with the FCD is done and I am currently filling my schedule in with lessons. If you are interested in volunteering at an event, know a teacher who might interested in lessons, or have a question, comment, or nugget of advice- all are welcome in my inbox (!

Thanks for stopping by!



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