Ecology and Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Gery Juleff, sustainability manager and Ecology Teacher, gives an update.
Lower and Upper Elementary Ecology
It seems like only yesterday that we planted our first vegetables in the garden and took the students for lessons in the woods. How we have enjoyed ourselves! We have spent hardly any time indoors (Climate Change has at least helped us there) and the children love being out in the open – and are now really comfortable in the woods, even those who were rather wary at first.
We don’t just do this because it’s fun, though. There are real benefits to spending time in the woods, identified by experts to include;
- boosts the immune system
- lowers blood pressure
- reduces stress
- improves mood
- increases the ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- accelerates recovery from surgery or illness
- increases energy level
- improves sleep
We also, of course, teach while in the woods. Along with our lessons in the vegetable garden and our farm visits, the children are learning about what is important in our environment, including healthy soil and clean water. They are beginning to better understand why it is important to make healthy choices – for themselves and the planet – when it comes to food. Early days yet, but over the coming years, we are confident that they will become perfectly comfortable in nature and understand why it is so important that we care for our planet.
It was also interesting to see how the students, while in the woods, are working on skills like balance, decision making, and helping each other.
One request – many students still do not have proper rain or snow boots. We’ve been lucky with the weather but that will change. Please ensure that they have these, and appropriate clothing; we would hate for the students to miss out on exploring a silent forest in the snow, or see our little stream in full flow over a series of cataracts after heavy rain. Within reason, we will go out rain or shine!
Middle School Environmental and Sustainability Studies
This MS Environmental and Sustainability Studies program is solidly underway now! The students are taking forward environmental and sustainability projects; they are participating in the Farm to School program, and we have finally started working with Dr. Shanley of the Ridgeview Conservatory, a program just across the street from us that is working to make persevered land accessible as a learning center. Dr. Shanley, who leads the Conservatory, is amazing – a distinguished ball of energy, who has spent many years living with indigenous people in the Amazon rain forest and teaches with incredible enthusiasm. The students will be making a film on invasive species, identifying those on campus, and proposing how to combat them. With an Avengers/James Bond/FBI/Star Wars theme. Should be interesting.
The students have taken to this work with amazing enthusiasm and energy, and much imagination. They feel they are ready to change the world, which is what we want. Our job is to help them do just that. Stay tuned!