Teachers Learn to Incorporate Environmental Education Inside and Outside the Classroom

Amanda Tomasello is back to share her experience working with teachers to provide kids with an environmental education experience at school! Here’s what she has to say about her eventful week:

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of working alongside April Alix of the Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership and Andrea Stein with the Roger Williams Park Zoo as they taught and facilitated a program called the Teacher Institute. The Teacher Institute is a weeklong program aimed at providing local school teachers in Providence with the resources to best implement environmental education activities both in and outside of the classroom by utilizing their local parks.  It was a whirlwind of a week full of observing, learning, laughter, and rotting chicken (I’ll get to that soon).

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Lou Perotti, the Director of Conservation Programs at Roger Williams Park Zoo, shows the teachers the beetles caught in the traps they had set in the days prior

We started off the week by learning about the endangered American Burying Beetle that is endemic to Rhode Island.  With the great help of Lou Perotti, the Director of Conservation Programs at Roger Williams Park Zoo, all ten of the teachers took their turn in setting traps around local Providence parks with what we liked to call “fresh rotted chicken,” since the American Burying Beetle is a carrion species. Day after day we checked the traps and noted the different species present all whilst holding our noses when the wind blew in our direction. In all seriousness however, this activity was a great intro to teaching us all the importance of citizen science and the protection of endangered species however small and unobvious.

The following days were full of learning how to lead nature hikes and facilitate other outdoor learning activities in the absence of a wildlife refuge or forest. We finished off the week on Friday by inviting an alumnus of the Teacher Institute, Ray Allsworth of William D’Abate Elementary School to demonstrate how he leads his classes on outdoor science field trips throughout the year at his local park.

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The teachers standing at the top of Neutaconkanut Hill after a guided hike through the trails

It was wonderful to see the teachers walk away at the end of the week with so much excitement and so many ideas for environmental education in their local parks.  The days were hectic and jam-packed with information and even at many times when I, the youngest person in the room, was on the verge of burning out by all of the information being thrown at me, the teachers were already asking about the next activity. That made me all the more thankful for teachers that volunteer their time to great things like this.

To read more about Amanda’s work, click here.

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