Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2011 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

The Role of Parks & People Foundation’s Informal Environmental Education in MSDE’s Environmental Literacy Implementation Plan
Shelley, Desiree
Co-Authors: Mary Hardcastle

Abstract: The Maryland State Department of Education has required that local school systems provide to all enrolled students a multi-disciplinary environmental education program aligned with the Maryland Environmental Literacy (EL) Curriculum. The Baltimore City Public School System is now faced with how to implement an environmental literacy program using resources unique to their city system. This presentation will discuss how informal hands-on and experiential, after-school, field trip, project based and schoolyard greening education programs can help Baltimore City Schools meet the EL graduation requirement. Parks & People Foundation has focused on developing and assessing the effectiveness of informal education and teacher professional development in an after-school setting through K-12 green career ladder programs which includes the KidsGrow, Project BLUE, BRANCHES and a new pilot K-1 environmental education program. In addition, Parks & People has developed enrichment programs surrounding specific schoolyard greening projects such as tree plantings, rain gardens and schoolyard habitats that combine curriculum centered on ecological concepts relating to that specific project. In contrast to the after-school and schoolyard greening project programs that are place based and focus on engaging students in their local neighborhood environments, Parks & People’s environmental education programs also strive to give youth meaningful experiences in nature in a local wilderness park on the Gwynn’s Falls Trail. Through this experience students can compare and contrast natural ecosystems with their local urban ecosystem. Lastly, a crucial component to every Parks & People environmental education program is teacher professional development. Each program is designed as a "train the trainer model" so that the teachers can take away valuable experiences and knowledge to replicate in their own classrooms and in-school curriculum. This presentation will look at each of these programs and how they are being evaluated.