First In-Person EarthSmart Field Day Lends Hope for the Future

It was a clear, sunny day out at Culver Elementary and there was a feeling of hope in the air. The Youth Education team had their first in-person EarthSmart program in over a year. Due to Culver’s different guidelines and smaller class sizes, outside visitors are allowed on campus. After months of teaching their virtual EarthSmart program, the Youth Ed team has succeeded in engaging over 4,000 students…all through a screen. Of course, virtual programming will never be the same as the classroom experience, which is why it was so exciting to visit Culver Elementary fifth graders! 

The two fifth grade classrooms met our team outside on the field and were split up into four groups. The activities ran much like a field day, having students move through stations. Each station connected with a lesson the students learned about virtually. 

  • Climate. Action!- Students reflected on how they can advocate for their planet and climate change and used their knowledge to their advantage in a game of “carbon tag.” 
  • Hidden World- Students spread out to investigate our favorite decomposers, Red Wiggler Worms.  “My favorite part of EarthSmart is learning about the FBI,” said a fifth grader referencing decomposers, (fungus, bacteria and invertebrates). 
  • Great Garbage Game- Students sorted different items into bins labeled  “landfill, recycle, reuse, or compost,” in our Great Garbage Game as well as partake in a relay that investigated the environmental impact of different foods that we eat. 

The  success of our EarthSmart Field Day at Culver Elementary showed glimpses of a brighter future. The Youth Education team has worked hard during COVID to adapt to the needs in our community through creating interactive virtual lessons and providing after-school and outdoor programs. 

One teacher shared,

“In a school year like no other, the EarthSmart program somehow made it possible for students to have a ‘hands-on’ learning experience through a virtual format. Students have really missed the tangible, applicable lessons that apply to their everyday lives. EarthSmart provided memorable experiences and lessons that have already found their way into students’ daily lives. We compost to the best of our ability every day at lunch, and students are sharing their knowledge when reducing, reusing, and recycling at home.

The community partnership between The Environmental Center and our students sends a beautiful message to the students, “We Care”. As a teacher, it was nice to have a break from teaching to learn something new alongside my students. I am so grateful for this partnership, thank you for everything you do to help build curious, responsible, empowered members of this community.” 

Our Youth Education team is continuing to work diligently to create safe opportunities for students to learn in the outdoors. As we look back on this unconventional school year, we are proud of the challenges that we overcame, we are encouraged by our student engagement and we look forward to being in the classrooms again soon. Until then, we have a whole summer of fun planned in the outdoors with students during our Forest Explorer Summer Camps.