It was a rainy Earth Day this past Sunday. Earth Day reminds me of the 8th grade, when I took earth science and realized I was very interested in environmental sciences and preservation. My teacher, Mr. Keller, asked us to research two colleges we’d go to and what we’d study. I picked UCLA and a university in the Midwest, because both had strong environmental sciences program. A few weeks ago I had lunch with Mr. Keller and his wife who were passing through town on a trip. Funny how things come full circle.
Well, I didn’t become an environmental scientist, but I am getting closer to combining my love of the environment with my passion for education. I’ve been learning loads about the Green Schools movement nationally and about what is happening locally. Turns out there’s a lot going on! Here are some of my newly-found resources and activities that can help parents promote a love and knowledge of the environment with their children.
- NoVA Outside and NoVA Early Outside. NoVA Outside is an Alliance of Environmental Educators who connect and teach people of all ages about their natural environment. Members come from schools, businesses, nature centers, non-profits, “green” groups and government agencies. I discovered this group over a year ago and learn something new about trainings, connections and content each time I attend one of their events. I just completed their Early Childhood Outside training day, where I learned about how to assess risk when providing learning opportunities to young children, how to use inquiry to let children lead the learning, and how to create fun hands-on activities for kids. Check me out creating a nature-inspired concrete stepping stone! Local landscape designer Nancy Striniste shared her knowledge of building eco-friendly play and learning spaces.
- Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale. This little center is perfect for a toddler (and school-aged kids with directed activities). There’s a small outdoor walking area that includes a playground. But inside, you can see displays with real and fake local animals, play dress up with animal costumes, and do other activities. The whole set up makes for a nice morning out. The center also has scheduled preschool programs and monthly family activities. See the website for details, and note it’s closed on Tuesdays.
- Walter Nature Education Center in Reston. I’ve seen this place, but have yet to visit. A friend told me about its various programs, including the Center’s impressive newsletter and calendar of events. Neat!
On the Web
- Teach Mama: Five Easy Ways to Raise Earth-Friendly Kids. I found this post particularly poignant. There are loads of links about teaching kids to engage with the environment, so let’s just leave it at this for now! (Perhaps fodder for a future new blog…)
Nice Job, Vienna!
- New Community Education Garden. A ground breaking occurred on April 23 for Vienna’s Community and Educational Gardens located behind the Vienna Community Center! The garden will have an educational element for Vienna Elementary School students and be a community garden for the Town of Vienna. Students and volunteers began preparing the garden for planting during the rainy day. The garden is sponsored by Vienna Elementary School and the Town of Vienna and supported by Maple Avenue Market and Whole Foods of Vienna.
- Community Enhancement Commission. I just learned about this group and understand it is Vienna’s local “green” committee. It also helped with the Garden and sponsored a tree planting ceremony in recognition of Arbor Day.
Shout Out to My Long Island Roots
- A Library that Connects People to Nature. National spokesman for outdoor learning Richard Louvre held up the Nature Explorium program by Middle County Public Library on “Strong Island” as a beacon of learning gone rogue in the right way. Check out how an outdoor space compliments the traditional indoor library.