Continuing Environmental Education in Trenton Schools

This Fall Fernbrook Farms Education Center continued our Unit of Study program

in Trenton City Schools.  We partnered with ISLES in Trenton

Fernbrook Farms partner with ISLES to better educate students about the environment.

which isa non-profit organization that helps educate teachers & students in Trenton school about how to take control of their own physical environment and personal health.  This fall Mr. Jim Simon and I educated over 200 students about Forest Ecology; concentrating on understanding the importance of forests, both for wildlife and for humans.  We worked in three schools; Mercerville Elementary, Village Charter School, and Washington Elementary

Ms. Melissa on Tree ID Hike showing students the Cedar trees.

This program is unique in the way that we spend a total of 4 days with the students and teachers in their school and on the farm.  The first day we visit the school and spend about 40-60 minutes in each participating class teaching them about what a forest is and playing an interactive, educational game. By playing the game the students learn about the basic needs of animals and how the health of the forest has an effect on population growth.  On the second day we introduce the parts of a tree and how a tree works by having the students participate in the Tree Factory activity.  The third day is a field trip to Fernbrook Farms where they move between four investigation stations, including a Tree ID Hike, Soil Investigation, Wildlife Hike, and Forestry Techniques station.  In all of these stations the kids  learn with hands-on experiential learning activities.  Some highlights of the field trip stations have been finding a garter snake during the wildlife hike, investigating FBI (fungus, bacteria, and invertebrate) in our compost pile, tapping a Red Maple tree for Maple syrup, identifying at least 10 trees around Fernbrook Farms, and lastly just enjoying the wonders of the great outdoors.  On the fourth and final day Mr. Jim and I return to the school for a follow- up where we review what the students discovered on their field trip, and what they liked or didn’t like about Fernbrook Farms.  We also read the Dr. Seuss classic The Lorax and review the importance of a forest and understanding the impact of humans on forests.  The most rewarding part of this program comes when Mr. Jim and I receive the “thank you” letters, drawings, and gifts from the students showing us how much this experience has taught them, and how we have affected their life in so many positive and memorable ways.

Ms. Jenna showing students from Washington Elementary how to tap a Red Maple Tree for Maple Syrup.

This program continues in the spring of 2012 and we hope to connect with many more students of Trenton.  We plan to focus on Wetlands Ecology. The students will visit our Pond, Creek, Meadow, and take a Watershed Forest Hike.  Can’t wait to explore Fernbrook Farms in Spring 2012!

–Ms. Jenna

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