Schools and early childcare centers (ECEs) inspire our children to collaborate, read, write, solve problems, explore science, history, language, and art. Healthy, dynamic learning environments motivate development of healthy behaviors; provide the opportunity for each child to explore their place and impact on Earth; and stimulate their desire to protect the world we all share.
School buildings have the power to make learning easier or more difficult. A room brightly lit with natural light, clean air, air temperature that’s not to hot or not too cold, and one void of air contaminants gives children the ability to think without hindrance. Schools whose administration, teachers, and students actively conserve water, energy, and other natural resources, either by design or behavior, become district leaders.
Campuses utilizing edible and pollinator gardens and other outdoor learning settlings and encouraging student field trips to local natural and historic places, inspire children to love each other and nature while learning core competencies, staying healthy and happy, becoming resilient, and setting them on a course for success.
Connecting Schools & Community. Administrations supporting strong parent and local business involvement…tutoring, mentoring, or working together with students in schoolyards and gardens…build healthy, strong, resilient communities. The value of our shared resource...schools...cannot be understated. Using our schools as a shared asset is a benefit for the whole community!
I work with school district, individual school/administrators, facilities, and school architects/engineers to design, update, and implement practices to:
My lived experience as an engineer with an emphasis in water resources and environmental pollution control; long-time role as my children’s school's Community Service & Sustainability Advisor and Kids for Saving Earth Club Founder; leadership in regional collaboratives and Advisory Boards who's missions are to protect the natural environment and provide equitable access to nature for all children; certifications in designing and implementing gardens and outdoor learning environments; and passion for the health & education of all children and protection of our shared Earth gives me the unique perspective to be able to identify and prioritize healthy changes (“tweaks”) that are readily implementable, effective, and inspired.
Allow me to hear about your school’s desires and priorities, and together we can:
During this unprecedented, post-COVID era for our schools and pre-schools, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy indoor environment, and use the great outdoors and schoolyards as learning environments. Many of the organizations listed below (Helpful Links) provide guidance on teaching and stay connected to nature. See also Champion for our Children: Indoor Health & Outdoor Learning Resources for tips and tools for teachers, parents, and school districts.
I encourage you to visit the following websites, select several to become your favorites,* and implement their concepts a little at a time, building on your school’s successes. Please contact me for specific help or ideas!
Environmental Protection Agency
Green Ribbon Schools, U.S. Department of Education
Green School Alliance
Healthy Tweaks: Equity in Learning--Healthy Schools & Outdoor Classrooms
Houston Environmental Resources Exchange - Citizens Environmental Coalition
Houston Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership / HPARD Curriculum in Nature
National Environmental Education Foundation
National Center for Safe Routes to School
Nature Lab Youth Curriculum by The Nature Conservancy
North American Association for Environmental Education
Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE!) Texas: DSHS
Take Care of Texas, Education
Texas Children in Nature Network: Healthier, Happier, Smarter
*If you find one or more of these websites helpful, please consider contributing to the non-profit organization that brings us this important information.
You can't educate people that are not healthy. But you certainly can't keep them healthy if they're not educated.” Joycelyn Elders
In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; we and we will understand only what we’re taught. Baba Dioum
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