One of our founders was Jim David – a high-school biology teacher in Flagstaff. From the beginning, classroom programs about environmental education have been our focus. With many different programs to choose from and dozens of kits, we complement teachers’ lessons with specific areas of expertise as requested. Continuing in this tradition, we recently completed the Five Points Project.
The Five Points Project incorporated 5 major components of environmental education: standards-aligned classroom programs, outdoor field experiences, training for teachers, service learning projects, and family science events. The underlying theme of the project was wildlife habitat restoration and resource conservation.
Students at Knoles Elementary School take a break from trail building activities. As part of the 5-Points project, Willow Bend worked with volunteers from the American Conservation Experience (ACE) to build a nature trail and outdoor classroom on the school grounds.
First, we visited the classrooms to provide lessons on habitats and biodiversity, forest ecology, animal and plant structure and human interactions with the environment. Using the school grounds as an outdoor classroom, we created micro-habitats, hunted for animal scat and sign, and discussed how we could improve the school yard habitat.
At one school we started by working in the school garden developing micro-habitats for a variety of animals and plants. This linked in with a much larger project through Terra BIRDS – an organization specializing in school gardens. In another school the students researched local birds, made bird feeders from recycled materials, and hung bird feeders in the school grounds. At a third school, students constructed a new trail, built “insect hotels” to welcome small wildlife, and created animal books with poetry and artwork on local animals that may be seen close to the school.
The children had incredible fun building trails, starting a garden, exploring their school yards, writing field guides for wildlife found near the school yard, and creating beautiful art work and poetry. And, they learned valuable lessons:
“You made us all realize we can help.”
The project included a lesson where the children made art work re-using materials, and then wrote poems about their animal.
The project was funded through a grant from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, and administered through the Office of the Coconino County Superintendent of Schools.
– Cassandra Roberts, Willow Bend Program Manager
Please see our recently completed Annual Report for additional articles.