Bet Shira Hebrew School Students’ generous donation plants a seed to engage even more young people in environmental conservation.
The return address read, “From the Magical Math Monkey Class.” We knew we were in for a treat. And it was: a book of illustrated thank you notes that gave us almost as much joy as we had from hosting these first and second graders from Grant Street Elementary on a field trip to release coho fry into Chimacum Creek.
We started out small, just a few years back, in our work to nurture kids’ love of nature and the outdoors through partnerships with local schools. Stewardship Associate Carrie Clendaniel began collaborating with teachers and students in the Chimacum Pi program. This became a model for educational partnerships with other Chimacum classes, and soon branched out to the PT School District. Now we’ve completed our second year in an ongoing partnership with Blue Heron Middle School, bringing the entire eighth grade class on a series of field trips to important areas of the local landscape, such as Snow Creek and Chimacum Creek. There, classroom lessons come to life through field training in water quality surveys, forestry skills, and environmental conservation.
Carrie says, “I’m so excited about our education partnerships. Not only are we connecting with every 8th grader in the PT School District, but by reaching first and second graders, we can have an impact on literally every child who goes through the Port Townsend School system. They get a chance to connect with the outdoors, and be introduced to potential careers based on the land, from conservation to farming to forestry.”
It’s becoming evident that working with school classes really does have an impact. Some of the students we first met through our public school partnerships also knew one another through Bet Shira Hebrew School. When the Bet Shira kids decided to raise money for a local cause, they voted on organizations they might like to support – and chose the Land Trust. We were so surprised, impressed, and grateful for their initiative and generosity; and it will make an enormous difference: Their gift is providing seed money to bring even more young people into land conservation by funding the inauguration of a youth corps.
Carrie tells us, “This gift will let us create paid field internships for three local high school students to learn about land conservation and perform stewardship work on our preserves this summer.” Sometime we think of our education partnerships as a way to “plant a seed” to grow future generation of conservationists. Now the Bet Shira students have paid it forward, and planted a seed of their own through their gift.