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News Release: Connecticut Audubon’s “Science in Nature” is Named Regions’ Best Environmental Education Program

Connecticut Audubon's Director of Education Michelle Eckman, left, receives the Maria Pirie Environmental Education Program Award from NEEEA Board Member Sarah Whilby.

Connecticut Audubon’s Director of Education Michelle Eckman, left, receives the Maria Pirie Environmental Education Program Award from NEEEA Board Member Sarah Whilby.

October 31, 2014 – Connecticut Audubon Society’s new suite of Science in Nature education programs, which in just two years have brought hands-on outdoor science education to 15,000 students throughout the state, has been honored as the region’s outstanding environmental education program by the New England Environmental Education Alliance.

Established in 2012, Science in Nature provides an authentic learning experience that is closely linked with state curriculum standards. The goal is to increase environmental literacy among elementary, middle and high school students, particularly in low income communities, so they will understand basic environmental science principles and be more likely to participate in finding solutions to environmental issues within their communities.

Connecticut Audubon Society offers Science in Nature at its centers at Fairfield, Milford Point, Glastonbury and Pomfret, and has worked hard to ensure the program is available to schools across the state. Schools from 44 towns have participated, including Bridgeport, Meriden, Manchester, East Hartford, Milford, Fairfield, Westport, Trumbull, Orange, New Fairfield, Litchfield, Pomfret and Woodstock. Generous philanthropic support has allowed Connecticut Audubon Society to include a number of low-income urban communities in the program.

The award — the annual Maria Pirie Environmental Education Program Award — was presented to Michelle Eckman, Connecticut Audubon’s director of education, at the alliance’s annual conference on Saturday in New Gloucester, Maine.

The New England Environmental Education Alliance serves as an umbrella and support organization for schools and environmental organizations in the six New England States.

The alliance said Science in Nature was chosen for the award because it motivates teachers to adopt a learn-by-doing approach to teaching science, and involves students in outdoor science education and practical conservation actions.

Connecticut Audubon Society President Alexander Brash said it is through Science in Nature that the organization seeks to open the eyes of and inspire the next generation of conservationists.

“Just as the pattern in a sunflower illustrates the math in a spiral, complex math, science and environmental topics can often best be understood outdoors in a real life setting,” he said. “The more our children appreciate nature and the ecological interrelationships inherent in our world, the better they will be empowered to ultimately comprehend and advocate for globally sustainable practices.”

He credited Michelle Eckman and Connecticut Audubon Society’s lead educators – Tricia Kevalis in Fairfield, Frank Gallo at Milford Point, Kasha Breau in Glastonbury and Sarah Heminway in Pomfret – for working as a team to devise and successfully roll-out Science in Nature, a program that is compelling to both students and teachers.

Headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut Audubon Society is the state’s original and independent Audubon organization. Its goal is to use the charismatic nature of birds to inspire the next generation of conservationists, and to work with the current generation to protect and improve the state’s natural habitats for the betterment of state residents, birds and other wildlife, and to make Connecticut a model of sustainability and environmental awareness for the nation.


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