EDUCATION – Schools, where children spend a significant amount of their time, have a tremendous opportunity to reconnect children with nature. Contact with nature has proven educational and developmental benefits. Historically, schools have planned field trips and arranged for school outreach programs, and schoolyards are often the nearest green spaces in neighborhood. Increasingly across Ohio, schools are being used as Community Learning Centers, making their facilities accessible to the community beyond the school day, seven days a week. This makes them even more valuable as “nearby nature” locations. With 55% of children under the age of six in child care centers, pre-schools and child care centers also play an important role in the effort to reconnect children with nature:
Strategy #4: Strengthen environmental education grant funds to support outdoor learning experiences.
The Ohio EPA administers the Ohio Environmental Education Fund (OEEF), which provides grants for projects such as outdoor learning areas at schools, educational programs in parks and nature centers and water quality monitoring supplies and training for students, teachers and citizen volunteers. The OEEF awards grants ranging from $500 to $50,000.
- From Weapons To Wetlands:
For more than 15 years, members from Ohio EPA’s Dayton office have worked with elementary through high school students to plant wetland vegetation, as well as monitor how man-made wetlands are helping to reclaim the Fernald Preserve, a former nuclear production facility.