Diversity In environmental education
To encourage students to become environmentalists, it is important to provide role models that reflect their cultural backgrounds and inspire them to believe that they too can be scientists and environmental activists. It is also crucial to address environmental issues that affect students’ daily lives.
Kids for the Bay (KftB) works primarily with low-income urban schools where 80 to 100 percent of students are children of color. Our board and staff reflect the culture of the school communities we work with, and our program directors are role models for our students, teachers, and the wider community.
A key to meeting the needs of a diverse student population is a diverse employee base. KftB staff includes people of Asian-American, Latino, and African-American descent.
In 2003, KftB celebrated its tenth anniversary. Four new program directors joined the staff in September and two new countywide programs were added: the Watershed Action Program and the Four Rs Action Program.
The Watershed Action Program is funded by a contract with the Contra Costa County Watershed Program. Teachers and students learn about their local watershed and the wider San Francisco Bay Area watershed. They also learn about sources of pollution and watershed environmental health and justice issues. Each class goes on field trips to local creek and bay habitats, and the students select, design, and implement a Watershed Environmental Action Project.
Over the next three years, KftB will work with all the schools in unincorporated Contra Costa County, northeast of San Francisco, to deliver this program to every fourth-grade teacher and class. We plan to expand this program to the rest of Contra Costa County and to neighboring Alameda County this year. Participating classes will be linked through a Web page that describes their projects.
Our second new program, funded by a contract with the Alameda County Waste Management Board, is the Four Rs Action Program-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot. When students complete a creek or bay clean-up project, they are always affected by the amount of garbage they collect and want to do something to reduce the garbage getting into their neighborhoods and creeks. The Four Rs Action Program teaches students how to reduce garbage at the source. It also helps students and teachers to set up recycling and composting programs in their classrooms.
KftB provides curriculum guides, support for student-centered environmental action projects, and an equipment package for each school. Our goal is for these environmental education programs to become part of the culture and curricula of our target schools.
Camp for older students
In 2003, KftB added a new camp for 8- to 10-year-old students. The weeklong Aquatic Science Adventure Camp takes students on a San Francisco Bay boat trip to study the animals and plants living in the open water. Students complete detailed investigations of bay-estuary and creek habitats, including water quality testing. They also learn how to take action on some of the issues affecting their local environment.
Younger students (ages 5 to 7) enjoy fishing for crabs, catching waterstriders, studying damselfly nymphs, experimenting with estuary water, plant art, nature hikes, and games.
Take action: If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, or plan to visit in June or July 2004, consider KftB’s day camp as an activity for your kids. Camp slots fill up rapidly and are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so act now. Please call (510) 985-1602 to receive an application form in the mail or visit www.kidsforthebay.org.
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