EPA’s Office of Children’s Health and Environmental Education Funds EPS Collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceMONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2008
RESTORE: Children and Nature, a collaborative project funded by EPA’s Office of Children’s Health and Environmental Education, will establish partnerships with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to enhance the FWS Schoolyard Habitat program with teacher professional development and EPS’s K-12 curriculum. The project will focus on biodiversity, ecological restoration, pollution prevention and ecological literacy.
Earth Partnership approaches can help build the capacity of non-formal educators, natural resource personnel, and citizen volunteers to work with schools and local environmental organizations to restore nearby native habitats and promote community stewardship of these restored areas.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a Schoolyard Habitat program in which FWS professionals assist both large and small-scale projects on school grounds in collaboration with local and regional agencies and organizations. The National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) is developing a guide for creating Schoolyard Habitats which will be available in 2009. Earth Partnership for Schools was approached to bring its 17-year history of teacher professional development and its extensive K-12 interdisciplinary curriculum guide to complement FWS efforts.
• At least five new Earth Partnership for Schools Centers will be established in CA, OK, MN, MD/VA and IA:
o USFWS Region 2: The Partners for the Fish and Wildlife Program in Oklahoma since 1993 has developed sixty-nine Outdoor Environmental Classrooms with an emphasis on wetlands and endangered and threatened ecosystems. FWS will identify partner organizations to train teachers and schools currently participating in the Outdoor Classroom Program and enhance integration of EPS curriculum into the K-12 schools.
o USFWS Region 3: Fergus Falls Wetland Management District: Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC) will collaborate with other FWS sites, University of MN Central Regional Partnership, and the Northland Arboretum, to host EPS training for schools and communities in Central Minnesota. PWLC has pioneered innovative whole year 5th grade Prairie Science Classes.
o USFWS Region 3: The Prairie Learning Center at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge will help create a RESTORE Team with Iowa partners at the largest reconstruction of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem in the entire U.S. Potential partners include the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Iowa State University chapter of the National Association of Interpretation, and Iowa Conservation Education Coalition
o USFWS Region 5: Patuxent Research Refuge and Rappahannock River Valley National Wildlife Refuge will collaborate with MAEOE, NWF, DEEC and other Maryland and Virginia partners to create EPS Centers serving the Chesapeake Bay area. Funding is pending from NOAA B-WET, but the partnership is already forming.
o USFWS Region 8: Sacramento, California: Work with USFWS Schoolyard Habitat Program Coordinator Carolyn Kolstad to develop a statewide network of EPS facilitating centers. RESTORE teams are already working in the Salinas Valley and Monterey Bay area and in Los Angeles County. The new effort would bring EPS Schoolyard Restoration to other areas in California’s diverse and vast geography, as well as to Nevada, and the Klamath Basin (OR)
• At least three Partnerships will result in new collaborative ventures with existing centers in KS, WI and Southeastern MN:
o USFWS Region 3: UW-Stout and Standing Cedars Land Conservancy, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Prairie Enthusiasts, Wisconsin DNR, FWS and others would partner to extend Earth Partnership training beyond the schoolyard to include citizens, agency staff and volunteers in ecological restoration of nearby natural areas.
o USFWS Region 3: Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge (LaCrosse District) would partner with UW LaCrosse, WI DNR, and the SE Minnesota Earth Partnership team to involve new schools and teachers in Southwestern WI and Southeastern MN. This pilot could in the future extend to schools and communities up and down the Mississippi, and include the Audubon Upper Mississippi Initiative, the new Mississippi Field Institute and other partners.
o USFWS Region 6: The EPS team at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, KS, will partner with the Great Plains Nature Center a collaborative venture with the City of Wichita, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Partners will help recruit additional schools for EPS Institutes and act as resources to teachers in their schoolyard restoration projects.
How it works: While projects will vary from region to region, all have the following elements:
1) RESTORE Teams consisting of non-formal educators from environmental education or conservation organizations, K-12 teachers citizen volunteers/stewards and FWS resource people will attend a 9-day RESTORE Institute at the UW-Madison Arboretum in 2009
2)The RESTORE teams return to their home states prepared to offer 5-day EPS training to local schools and communities
3) FWS resource personnel will have the option to attend 2-day trainings in their states, collaborate in the regional institutes and the subsequent schoolyard habitat projects, and help recruit schools, partners and resources for the projects
4) Citizen volunteers will be trained as stewards for schoolyard restorations
5) An EPS Facilitator Training Manual, EPS Curriculum Guide, EPS Resource Binder, Rain Garden and Stormwater curricula will be provided in print and digital versions. All EPS activities are cross-referenced with state curriculum standards and include clearly defined curricular objectives and student learning assessment ideas adaptable to regional ecosystems.
6) In addition, a new national partnership will be established with USFWS and NCTC to train additional teams of FWS personnel, formal and non-formal educators and citizen volunteers in 2010 and beyond.