Connecticut Audbon Society


New Grant Will Bring Science in Nature to 1,700 Connecticut Elementary School Students

January 8, 2018 – With the help of a generous grant from the SBM Charitable Foundation of Manchester, the Connecticut Audubon Society will expand its Science in Nature outdoor education program to 79 additional classrooms in Hartford and Windham counties, doubling the number of elementary school children who have participated in the program there.

SBMCF has made Science in Nature, and specifically the students of Manchester, East Hartford, and Windham County, a focus of its philanthropy since 2013.

This year’s grant, which is for $61,141, has two important new additions.

It will allow Connecticut Audubon to provide customized training for local teachers participating in Science in Nature. This professional development component will help ensure that the principles of Science in Nature continue to be taught in the schools.

And the grant will help Connecticut Audubon to expand Science in Nature to include after-school programming in the Manchester elementary schools. Approximately 200 students will participate in this new 10-session component.

The school-day portion of the program will reach 1,754 students.

“The SBMCF is happy to continue our funding of the Connecticut Audubon Society, and to be able to aid in the expansion of its Science in Nature program,” said Doreen H. Downham, the foundation’s executive director. “We are pleased that the successful program is in line with our grant-making focus of education enrichment, and that it will now benefit even more students in our service area.”

60,000-plus Students

Statewide, Science in Nature, which Connecticut Audubon started in 2012, has reached more than 60,000 students in more than 75 percent of the state’s school districts, including all of its major cities.

The goal of Science in Nature is to provide outdoor conservation learning in a way that meets the state Education Department’s Next Generation Science Standards and also helps teach youngsters the importance of being good conservationists.

The SBMCF grant will allow students from schools in Manchester and East Hartford to travel to Connecticut Audubon’s Center at Glastonbury for Science in Nature courses. Likewise, students from Putnam Elementary and Killingly Memorial schools will travel to the Center at Pomfret for Science in Nature.

“SBMCF’s generosity has allowed hundreds of children from underserved communities to experience authentic outdoor learning,” said Michelle Eckman, Connecticut Audubon’s education director and the director of the Center at Glastonbury. “Many of the city kids in particular approach our program wary of nature and wildlife.”

But whether the students are from cities or more rural areas, Science in Nature has had a significant effect on their knowledge and on their commitment to conservation.

“We have been gratified at how the program has changed the children’s attitudes about nature and helped them appreciate it more,” said Sarah Heminway, director of the Center at Pomfret. “If you understand a bit about nature and begin to enjoy it, the chances are greater that you’ll also want to conserve it. That’s what we are seeing in so many of our Science in Nature students.”

Connecticut Audubon Society’s mission is to conserve Connecticut’s environment through science-based education and advocacy focused on the state’s bird populations and their habitats. In addition to its centers at Glastonbury and Pomfret, it has centers in Fairfield, Milford, Old Lyme, and Sherman, and an EcoTravel program based in Essex.

The SBM Charitable Foundation, Inc., perpetuating the vision of the former Savings Bank of Manchester, is committed to bettering the lives of those who live and work predominantly East of the River in Hartford, Tolland, and Windham Counties. Priorities established for the Foundation’s giving are Health, Human Services, Education, Housing, and the Arts. For more information contact the foundation at

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