2010 Recipient #1
Earth Partnership for Schools
In June, the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains holds a week-long summer institute, training 20 -30 teachers from 10 south-central Kansas schools on the Earth Partnership for Schools curriculum, using curriculum materials developed by the University of Wisconsin, Madison Arboretum. All curricular activities have been coordinated with the Kansas Education Standards. During the school year following the summer institute, teacher teams begin to integrate the Earth Partnership for Schools program into the school curriculum.
With support from arboretum staff, EPS schools conduct in-service training, classroom EPS activities, take students on field trips to study the "prairie model" and plant prairie gardens on their own school grounds. Most of the 30 EPS schools participating thus far have conducted plantings of hundreds of native plants in the spring and fall of their schools year as part of their EPS implementation plan, involving teachers, students, parents, and community members. These native prairie plantings add beauty and diversity to schoolyards. They also serve as outdoor learning laboratories for kids where they can study varied topics such as how prairies were important to our cultural and natural history.
In January, the teachers reconvene for a one-day follow-up winter institute. Each EPS school team shares the progress of their prairie plantings, strides made with EPS curriculum implementation, and the successes and challenges encountered along the way. To date, arboretum staff have worked with 30 schools and103 teachers, and more than 5,000 students. Brad Guhr calls this the "ecological pyramid scheme" to teach children and adults about the native plants of Kansas. Each teacher trained will continue to educate students for years to come. The arboretum is seeking funding to help underwrite the fourth year of the Earth Partnership for Schools Program administered by Brad Guhr, arboretum education coordinator.