Service learning projects are a special segment of our volunteer philosophy. In addition to getting the community outside and caring for our natural lands, it’s an educational opportunity to connect students with the outdoors and our natural heritage. It’s a chance to teach students about ecosystems while improving an ecosystem.
In 2012, 362 hours of service-based learning was offered to three schools. In 2017, 3,650 hours were offered to classes at 10 schools!
Featured Service Learning Project: Kelloggsville Public Schools at Hager Park
Since 2013, fifth grade students from Kelloggsville Public Schools have visited Hager Park to learn about and remove invasive plants, pick up litter, have lunch, and enjoy the Age of Discovery playground.
The trip is funded by a Kids to Parks Day grant, a nation-wide contest. The students are required to choose their project and write the majority of the grant.
Fifth grade teacher, Maureen Bradley, is happy to return each year. “The students are excited to learn about nature and to do the work. My excitement comes when students see that writing can lead to great things. Winning this grant and being at Hager Park is so motivating for our young biologists and future writers!”
These students are making a difference. When they began this project, the area they have been working on was 100% dead nettle. In 2016, nodding trillium was found growing there.
Fifth grader Yanexis Odelin reflected on her time spent at Hager Park: I learned that invasive plants ruin and kill the native plants. If all the native plants disappear, then bugs and insects don’t eat. We can’t let that happen. If there are no insects and bugs, then other animals, like birds, can’t find food and they will starve. So today we pulled an invasive plant called dead nettle. We pulled as many as we could. It actually made a difference and that made me happy.
In 2016 an added component of the grant was education. The students created informative posters to help others identify and understand the effect of invasive plants.