Demonstrating how environmental education can be used to meet standards set in all disciplines through the use of technology and authentic opportunities that address local and global issues in collaboration within our community and our world.
The New Albany community is proud of its nature preserve featuring 86 acres of wetlands, streams, meadows and forests. Two federal laws, the Wetland Protection Provision of the Clean Water Act and the Highway Beautification Act (ISTEA), have enabled the village government and the school board to cooperate with the Ohio Department of Transportation and the New Albany Company developer to acquire the preserve. The nature preserve has won high awards for the diversity of habitat that exists adjacent to the Learning Community campus.
Our nature preserve is within walking distance from each school building and is the keystone of our K-12 curricular goals having in the past enabled our students to learn environmental stewardship, local history, interpretive writing, mathematics of water flow, weather, surveying, art and photography. It is our vision that this appreciation and enjoyment of nature will create a desire to preserve and sustain the earth’s natural systems for future generations – one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century. Environmental stewardship is a major interdisciplinary strand of the New Albany Plain Local Schools K-12 Course of Study. Teachers from every grade level and discipline use the nature preserve as an extension of their classroom so that their students may learn through hands-on, inquiry based and authentic experiences. Within the first two months of this school year, 2010, over 2000 students participated in curricular activities in our Nature Preserve. The New Albany Plain Local Schools currently hosts a two-year high school Environmental Science program in collaboration with the Eastland Career Center, Columbus State Community College, and The Ohio State University in order to manage the community’s nature preserve effectively. Students from 18 central Ohio high schools are eligible to apply for this environmental industry-endorsed program. These students are the stewards of the nature preserve and are responsible for the technical monitoring of the site and for the development and implementation of community education programs.
“When we incorporate environmental learning into education, students develop an environmental literacy that will help them make informed decisions to protect the environment at home, at work and in their community.” – Classroom Earth, National Environmental Educational Foundation Program
Currently, there is legislation in Congress called the No Child Left Inside Act that would enact environmental guidelines for learning K-12 nationally if approved. These national environmental strands would include questioning and analysis skills, knowledge of environmental process and systems, skills for understanding and addressing environmental issues and personal and civic responsibility. New Albany Schools is already a national leader in environmental stewardship. Environmental education is a tool that is used to support our main curricular strands by providing experiences for entire grade levels, departments, classrooms and individual students alike. Our Nature Preserve seeks to expand students opportunities to problem solve, discover and explore through STEM Programs, 21st Century Skills, Summer Field Studies, Campus Based Summer Camps, Community Gardens, as well as local business and education partnerships. These experiences and skills are absolutely essential for our students who will be solving global problems dealing with our limited resources on this planet.
“In order for things to change, you have to change. We can’t change others; we can only change ourselves. However, when we change, it changes everything. And in doing so, we truly can be the change we want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi