2013 | The Greening of Detroit
Funding will support the continuation of their program called Our LAND (Learn, Admire, Nurture, Dream), providing environmental education programming to build urban children’s connection with nature. Our LAND targets 5th and 6th graders at ten Detroit public schools, and offers classroom sessions and field trips to Detroit’s largest park, Rouge Park. At 1,184 acres, Rouge Park contains a native prairie and grassland, wetland plant and animal habitats, forests, an interpretive tree trail, playscapes, picnic areas, and miles of pathways. Each field trip will include both hands-on learning activities and unstructured time for students to explore and reflect, and field trips will be held yearlong to allow participants to see seasonal changes in the park. Project activities, designed using curriculum from Michigan Environmental Education Curriculum, Earth Partnerships for Schools, and the U.S. Forest Service’s “Discover Your Forest,” will encourage teachers and students to engage in the same lessons at their school classrooms after their field experiences, helping students make connections between Rouge Park and their own neighborhood. A uniformed Forest Service educator also will visit each classroom to help students understand the relationship between their local environment and the national forests. In addition to these activities, students will explore the impacts humans have on ecosystems and ways to improve these interactions by assisting in the planning and implementing of a service learning project at Rouge Park, which may include invasive species removal or a prairie planting. Finally, The Greening will provide four take home activities to engage students’ families and gain interest and support for the stewardships projects at Rouge Park. Project staff will meet regularly with teachers to ensure a collaborative relationship, and will provide training and resources to support projects and help teachers lead lessons in field.
Results & Impact of Grant
The Greening’s staff engaged ten fourth, fifth and sixth grade classrooms throughout Detroit to participate in and complete Our LAND. Five classroom visits and three field trips engaged 258 students who participated in two to four lessons per visit. All lessons correlated with the Grade Level Content Expectations for appropriate grade levels. Five supplemental lessons were distributed to students to engage families in lessons at home.
The Greening’s educators administered a pre and post survey to participating classes to measure the content retention success of the Our LAND program. In 2013 – 2014, all classes’ scores improved between the pre survey and the post survey, with the exception of one, whose score remained the same. The latter was likely due to the fact that the classroom’s science content standards were not completely aligned with those of The Greening, so concepts were not reiterated in the students’ science program.
TREE Fund’s support was integral to the success of the 2013 – 2014 Our LAND program. Teachers and students were thoroughly impressed during the program’s inaugural year (2012-2013), but staff worked closely with teachers to further elevate the program and positively impact MEAP standards. As a result, a water quality monitoring protocol was incorporated. The TREE Fund allowed The Greening to purchase water quality monitoring equipment including nets for benthic macro invertebrate testing, pH strips, dissolved oxygen tests and equipment to test flow.
A portion of the funds also made bus transportation to Rouge Park possible. Field trips were the highlight of the program for most, if not all, the participants, including the teachers. Sixth grade science teacher Valerie Booker-Bryant participated in Our LAND during its first two years. “You better keep me at the top of the list for next year!” she joked during the last field trip visit, where the kids conducted water quality monitoring in the Rouge River. “This program helps students who struggle to understand concepts in the classroom [to] shine.”