April is Earth Month and a perfect opportunity to discuss the little things that we can do to make a positive impact on our community and the environment. There are several resources available for school communities to help support positive environmental lessons and practices.
GrowNYC is just one organization that helps school communities reach that goal, motivating thousands of New York City students to participate in 27 environmental improvement projects in their Environmental Education program.
Their Renewable Energy initiative helps students learn about energy sources, using their classrooms and homes as real-life examples of how to conserve energy. This program employed a fun development component where 400 students built and tested their own working pizza box solar ovens to demonstrate the power of the sun.
In GrowNYC’a Habitat Restoration and Water Health component, the students learned about the history of the New York City Watershed and the efforts being made to improve water quality. The students incorporated the lessons about erosion, restoration, prevention and the roles trees and plants play in the ecosystem into 17 restoration projects across the city. These projects focused on 7 bodies of water in 5 NYC Parks and on school campuses. The students planted 3,100 trees, shrubs and plants, and removed destructive plantation from approximately 7,000 square feet of shoreline. Staten Island’s PS 57, The Hubert H. Humphrey School was one of the schools that participated in this program, focusing their efforts on Eibs Pond, which runs directly across from the school. PS 57 has been recognized locally, regionally, and nationally for their innovative practices and partnerships in environmental education. PS 57 was awarded the distinction of “Green Ribbon School” by the United States Department of Education.
Below are some local field trip activities schools can consider incorporating into their environmental lesson plans.
Each of the free programs offered are geared towards a different age group. Children will learn all about the ecology of the hiking areas and have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of birds and their behavior.
Email: [email protected] or access a Field Trip request form online: freshkillspark.org/education-lesson-pla/field-trips
Ideal for 6th to 12th grade students: Take a free tour of the once-largest landfill, and see its transition into an expansive natural area. Students learn the importance of water management, biodiversity, and the reclamation of this historic area of NYC.
High Rock Park | Greenbelt Nature Center
718-667-7475 or email [email protected]
K-12 students will enjoy programs dedicated to energy, reuse, ecology, and neighborhood-based nature walks. Fees vary depending on school type and program.
Pratt Industries USA
Victory Boulevard Recycling Center
Contact Barbara Farley, 718-355-6710 at least two weeks in advance to arrange a tour
All age groups will love learning about what happens to the paper they recycle in classrooms. (Much of which is turned into pizza boxes!) Bring recycling to life with a tour.
Serpentine Art and Nature Commons
Contact John Garcia at 646-217-2499 or [email protected] to arrange a field trip
Local schools of all ages can hike this nature preserve’s many trails to witness the natural biodiversity of Staten Island.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Contact Susannah Abbate, Education Coordinator, at [email protected] or 718-425-3512 to arrange a tour or class trip
Children of all ages will enjoy the many classes and tours offered at this site. On-site farms, gardens, and pastoral lands act as living classrooms to expand on students’ STEM knowledge.
Additional environmental education resources can be found here.
By Community Education Council 31 President Michael Reilly