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ENST 390 students befriend Rogers Environmental Education Center

By Sheila Reagan on April 19, 2013

Written by Elisabeth Muehlemann ’14

Every semester the class ENST 390 is offered focusing either on affecting campus change or affecting change within the community. Students are broken into groups and they work on a semester long project that culminates with a final project detailing what was accomplished and the steps that occurred to make that happen. This semester the focus is on a project that works within the surrounding community, with community partners that range from the Rogers Environmental Center to the Chenango Nursery School. Each group has been expected to work with their community partner to develop a project that accomplishes the goals of the class and the goals of the partner as related to making environmental education approachable and interesting to students.rogvisitorctr

Our partnership has been with the Rogers Environmental Education Center. Rogers once had New York State Funding for programming and infrastructure but that was recently cut, so they have hired a new executive director and formed a board called the Friends of Rogers to create new programming and focus on fund raising. We have been working with the board to develop five lesson plans to begin to revive their environmental education program. Throughout the semester we developed these lesson plans that include: The Water Cycle and Water Pollution, Oneida Land Use, Dirt and Decomposition, Food Web Exploration, and Weathering, Erosion and Their Impact on the Environment. The lessons all contain background information on the subject matter and activities that will enhance the student’s understanding of the materials. Teachers from local school districts will be able to take their students to Rogers and have a Rogers volunteer teach one of the lesson plans to supplement the work that is being done in the classroom.

One of the most important and difficult aspects of working on this project has been ensuring that we are meeting the New York State teaching standards and developing lesson plans that are engaging to every kind of learner that will be at Rogers. If the students that use this programming are not interested in the material they are learning or they cannot remain engaged, the lesson plans will be accomplishing nothing. We did research with other environmental education centers around the country as well as with teachers from the surrounding school districts to ensure that we were including material that was relevant and useful. Field trips are a very important learning tools for elementary and middle school students because it allows the sometimes seemingly abstract material they learn in class to materialize in a real world setting. This allows younger students to remember the information more easily and apply it to relevant situations. In environmental education it is especially important that the material be applicable because the sooner children understand how the world works around them and the fact that it needs to be respected and preserved the more likely these concepts will become ingrained in their lifestyle.

At the end of April we will be performing the Food Web Exploration lesson with a 5th grade class from Hamilton Central School so we are hoping it will be positively received and students will be able to return to Rogers with their classes and learn about the importance of the environment.

 


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