The Dirt on SRT’s Environmental Education Program

by Laura Childers, Education Coordinator

SRT’s environmental education program is moving along a path of rapid evolution, shifting and honing its shape to survive in a new economic climate that seems to be freezing rather than warming. Read on for the latest news about field trips, teacher trainings, and service learning opportunities.

Exploring the grapevine cave

Field Trips

Two dozen children popped their heads out of the school bus windows and shrieked, “I love you!” in unison, leaving a handful of mystified naturalists in their wake as the bus rumbled down the road exiting Kaweah Oaks Preserve.

It was a scorching hot afternoon, and SRT was on its way to completing the May rush of schools-almost-out field trips—introducing 800 elementary school children to the great outdoors in their own backyard. Kaweah Oaks Preserve is a mere 10 – 15 minute drive from most Visalia area schools. The preserve protects a pristine piece of the valley oak woodland that used to dominate this region.

The preserve is literally crawling with educational opportunities. Despite the heat, the enthusiastic students explored the preserve with gusto—creeping through secret vine caves hidden along the trails and examining grasshoppers they caught with colorful butterfly nets. These hands-on activities teach students valuable lessons that can be applied both in and out of the classroom.Catching grasshoppers

SRT offers a program of diversified subject areas that include Math, Language Arts, and Social Studies, which help prepare them for the STAR test. The newly revised and expanded curriculum teaches students about the region’s ecology while utilizing their written, oral, and mathematical skills.

Scientists have shown that students who undergo outdoor education programs improve their Science test scores by 70%. SRT believes that our environmental education program can facilitate students’ progress not only in science, but in other subjects as well by providing them an engaging, hands-on learning environment.

Teacher trainings

Teacher trainings are SRT’s new frontier, and we got our feet wet as a guest lecturer with Pro Youth/HEART’s summer after-school teacher training. Thanks to HEART’s good faith, SRT trained 250 teachers in environmental education, providing them with lesson plans to teach their students about natural resource conservation in the San Joaquin Valley and Sierra Nevada. The lesson plans will be made available on the SRT website and the HEART database.

Service learning

What’s better than habitat restoration? Habitat restoration with a service learning component. That means that the community’s kids are making SRT’s preserves fit for native species—like deer, foxes, and drought-tolerant plants—while learning about the natural landscape. SRT is working with local educational and youth organizations to get these much-needed projects off the ground. Groups are encouraged to inquire about the latest service learning projects we’re planning and dive right in. Contact Laura Childers, Education Coordinator, at laura@sequoiariverlands.org or (559) 738-0211 x105.

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One Response to The Dirt on SRT’s Environmental Education Program

  1. Hilary Dustin says:

    Laura,

    Nice job on the blog! You make it all sound so inviting.

    Hilary

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