Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2014 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Inner City Insights: Environmental Education in Baltimore City
Fink II, Richard
Co-Authors: Sam Little, Kara Berger

Abstract: Connecting people to nature can be challenging anywhere, and especially so in urban environments. Parks & People Foundation (PPF), a Baltimore City based nonprofit organization, has embraced this challenge through a variety of mechanisms; primarily by utilizing available green space, environmental education (EE) in after school programs, and the Green Career Ladder. Baltimore is home to the Gwynns Falls Trail (GFT), a 15-mile linear greenway trail connecting over 30 unique neighborhoods and 2,000 scenic acres of parkland throughout the City. PPF has developed a field trip program for the GFT to get students outside and in nature. The field trip program exemplifies how to connect people to the natural world around them. The presentation will include an engaging activity from the GFT field trip curriculum. Additionally, PPF has been successfully engaging students in afterschool programs for over 13 years and delivering hands-on and place-based environmental education. Educators from PPF will share proven methods of delivering EE in urban environment as well as struggles and ways to overcome them. To conclude, PPF will discuss the Green Career Ladder and BRANCHES (Building Resources And Nurturing Community Health and Environmental Stewardship), a PPF program that has been successfully running for 10 years. BRANCHES transforms environmental education to a marketable skill for Baltimore youth, employing them in environmental stewardship activities. Connecting students to nature has a wide range of benefits, which can be particularly apparent in urban environments.