Connecticut Audubon Society has been awarded a $49,000 3M Eco Grant to bring its innovative Science In Nature outdoor education program to approximately 650 Meriden public school students.
The program will be conducted at Connecticut Audubon’s Center at Glastonbury, where the Meriden students will spend 8 hours in the field over two days, participating in hands-on outdoor learning about geology and weather and climate. The school district’s 4th graders will participate this spring; the program will carry over to the fall, when this year’s 4th graders are in 5th grade.
Science In Nature is Connecticut Audubon Society’s flagship education program and the prime vehicle for carrying out the organization’s mission of providing science-based conservation education. Using state and national standards for science, math and literacy, it was inaugurated in 2012 and has served students in public and private schools in Bridgeport, Fairfield and Trumbull.
The Meriden students will use cutting-edge scientific technology to collect data such as air and soil temperature, wind speed, and soil moisture. They will study soil types and the rock cycle, observe how erosion shapes landscapes, and how plants and animals respond to changes in weather and climate.
Science In Nature offers students the chance to be outdoors studying the relationships between humans, ecosystems, and earth systems; from how plant growth relates to earth’s rotation and revolution to how wind speed and direction impact bird migration.
The 3M grant helps establish Science In Nature as the foundation of Connecticut Audubon Society’s education program, which was a key goal of the organization’s annual Connecticut State of the Birds 2012 report, “Where Is the Next Generation of Conservationists Coming From?”
“Our focus is to help prepare the next generation of conservationists by providing an education program that gets kids outdoors and gives them the unique chance to learn classroom-taught concepts in a real-world ecosystem,” said Robert Martinez, president of Connecticut Audubon Society. “We are extremely grateful to 3M Community Giving for helping us toward that goal. We also want to thank Ellen Castaldini, a member of our Glastonbury regional board and one of the state's true experts in environmental education, for her work on this project.”
Mark Benigni, Ed.D, superintendent of Meriden public schools, said: "The Meriden Public Schools are excited to partner with the Connecticut Audubon Society to provide an engaging learning experience for our students. Our students will certainly benefit from the alliance between 3M and the Connecticut Audubon Society. Together, we can help our students acquire new knowledge in science, math and literacy."
The Center at Glastonbury has provided high quality environmental education to more than a generation of school children. Led by Center Director Cynthia Bartholomew and Teacher-Naturalist Kasha Breau, Glastonbury provides an ideal outdoor setting and has taught 6,000-8,000 children a year in programs for pre-K through high school.
“3M is committed to sustainability, and organizations like Connecticut Audubon Society are helping to connect the future workforce to nature and science as well,” said Kim Price, vice president, 3M Community Affairs and the 3M Foundation. “We are proud to support Connecticut Audubon Society in its efforts to enhance environmental education.”
3M Community Giving is awarding $400,000 to nine environmental organizations with its 2012 Eco Grants, which are aimed at improving science-based environmental and conservation education for youth. Since 2001, 3M’s environmental giving program has invested more than $17 million in sustainability initiatives as part of the company’s vision of improving every life.
The 2012 grant recipients are nature and environmental learning centers located in communities near a 3M facility. Recipients were selected based on criteria that include connecting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education and nature with outdoor learning opportunities, providing education that encourages environmental stewardship, and increasing student visits and teacher preparedness—thereby extending the learning beyond a single visit.