EPA Environmental Education Grant # NE-973805-01-0
Organization: Sweet Briar College is a private, liberal arts college for women located in central Virginia, with strong programs in the natural and life sciences and a well-established outreach program providing continuing education opportunities to regional in-service teachers that has received over $1 million in funding from the federal and state governments. Its Biology department is launching a new outreach program on Virginia's vernal pool wetlands, called “School for Pools.” Project partners include Boxley Materials Company, Bedford County Economic Development Authority, Lynchburg College's Claytor Nature Study Center, the Central Virginia Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalist Program, and Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.
Summary Statement: The “Schools for Pools” project will connect strategically chosen schools in Central Virginia with partnering hosts who will provide access to field trip sites. Students and teachers will participate in directed field investigations of vernal pool wetlands as showcases of environmental dynamics, ecology and conservation concepts, and unique wildlife habitats. Students will receive background classroom instruction before field trips and teachers will have the opportunity to participate in training workshops on the same subjects. Project participants will increase their understanding of wetlands functions and conservation issues and be empowered to positively influence environmental choices in their home communities by presenting their studies and recommendations to their local leaders and partnering organizations. The project's activities will serve as a catalyst for increased wetlands conservation and awareness within Central Virginia and serve as a model to encourage other school districts and communities around the state to participate in similar initiatives of local wetlands adoption and monitoring.
Educational Priority: The project will focus on the educational priorities of community stewardship with a secondary component of teaching skills. Project activities will promote understanding of the importance of wetlands protection and develop skills in students and teachers to take community action toward the same. Teacher training workshops will provide educators with the technical knowledge and skills to address a new resource focus not well understood or promoted in their home state.
Delivery Method: Students at each school will receive two classroom learning sessions at their school and three field trips to special destinations during the 2009-2010 academic year. Teachers will have two opportunities during that school year to participate in a Saturday workshop on vernal pools hosted at Sweet Briar College. Each school will have a profile on the Virginia Vernal Pools web site that will feature their students' learning activities and wetlands adoption efforts in their local community.
Audience: Teachers and students from four regional school districts will participate in the project, with grades K-5 targeted at Temperance Elementary in Amherst County, grades 6-7 targeted at Appomattox Middle School in Appomattox County and Buckingham County Middle School, plus high school students at Staunton River High School in Bedford County. The estimated number of participating students and teachers will be 550. The respective school board and county board of supervisors in each school district will be offered a student presentation of the project results and each respective local community will be targeted for increased awareness through local media features.
Staunton River High School (Bedford County, VA)
Temperance Elementary School (Amherst County, VA)
Appomattox Middle School (Appomattox County, VA)
Amherst County High School (Amherst County, VA)
Loudoun Valley High School (Loudoun County, VA
No school in Virginia has invested more hours in the "Schools for Pools" educational model than Loudoun Valley High School in Purcellville, Virginia. For nearly ten years, thousands of "Environmental Explorations" students, under the guidance of teachers, John DeMary and Liam McGranaghan, have participated in long term monitoring studies of pools and their amphibians at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Studies near the Potomac River and Harper's Ferry.
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