Seniors plan third annual environmental education day
Students from Waterville Junior High School visited the Hill Friday, April 15 for a morning of scientific exploration and discovery as a part of Environmental Education Day, organized and orchestrated by four seniors from the College.
Molly Muller ’11, Hannah Lafleur ’11, Fran Nixon ’11 and Amie Fleming ’11 worked as a group to organize funding, volunteers, activities and the day’s schedule as a part of an independent study project for the education department.
The junior high school students rotated through a total of five stations on campus, each of which had its own focus. At the aquatic ecosystems station students looked at aquatic insects; at the water conservation station they made an edible aquifer out of food materials; at the Maine wildlife station students played games to increase their understanding of population; at recycling and energies they had a relay race and worked with Organic Garden members, getting a hands-on experience working in the garden.
Forty volunteers helped Muller, Lafleur, Nixon and Fleming interact with the students and run the different stations. After, the group went to lunch where they continued to learn about the importance of the environment by seeing which group could make the most use of their compost buckets and come up with the least amount of food waste.
This was the third annual Environmental Education Day held on the Hill. Every other year Associate Professor of Education Adam Howard teaches a class titled “Education, Social Justice and the Environment,” and last year his class planned the second Environmental Education Day. However, the first Environmental Education Day was organized by a group of students for an independent study project, similar to this year.
Despite the inclement weather during the event, the organizers “thought it went really well…the kids really enjoyed a chance to get outside and come to Colby,” Fleming said. “The cool thing was just knowing none of them would have spent that much time outside otherwise…[and] the amount of information they absorbed was incredible,” Lafleur added.
Fleming also mentioned that she was happy to have so many people assisting with the event. Muller noted that there was a good mix of volunteers, some who were interested in the environment and some who were interested in education.
The hands-on activities to teach the middle school students about the interconnectedness of individual actions and societal problems. “They learned about long-term environmental consequences…[that] driving your car and the BP oil spill are connected, but a seventh grader might not put this together and realize that we are part of a bigger system,” Fleming said.
After graduation, the four senior organizers will be continuing their work in the field of environmental education. Muller will be teaching U.S. history to students at St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont and leading trips for the school’s outing club. Fleming will be working for the Appalachian Mountain Club until October and then teaching in the classroom and leading outdoor expeditions at High Mountain Institute in California. Nixon will be starting her Masters in Elementary Education at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and teaching at the Brookwood School in Norwell, MA. Lafleur will be leading an Overland trip this summer and then starting as an apprentice in the Outdoor Classroom at the Chewonki Middle School in Maine.
“We’re really hoping the program will get stronger and that it will continue to happen every year,” Nixon said. The Environmental Education Day leaders would like to thank their volunteers, Howard and their financial sponsors—the education program, the environmental science program, the American studies department and the office of the president—“for helping to make [the event] happen.”