Connecticut school kids will get more outdoor science education thanks to federal grant from Congresswoman DeLauro
The number of school kids participating in Connecticut Audubon’s Science in Nature outdoor education program will increase dramatically in the coming years, thanks to a $750,000 federal grant received from the office of U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro of New Haven.
Approximately 20,000 Connecticut students in grades kindergarten through 5th participate in Science in Nature now. That number will increase by at least 50 percent, to 30,000 students. And the total number of hours of science-based outdoor instruction will increase to 60,000 hours, from 40,000.
Representative DeLauro announced the grant at a press conference on Friday, April 21, at Connecticut Audubon’s Milford Point Coastal Center.
George Amato, the chair of the Coastal Center’s regional board, welcomed the two dozen people who attended the press conference. Patrick Comins, Connecticut Audubon’s executive director, explained how the program and the grant are part of the organization’s long-term plan for the future.
“Back in 2012, in our annual Connecticut State of the Birds report, we worried about Connecticut’s young people and their interest in the outdoors,” he said. “We asked the question ‘Where is the next generation of conservationists coming from?’
“Our contribution to helping solve the problem was to create the Science in Nature education program and to bring it to Connecticut’s schools. It’s been a successful program, and now it’s going to get even better, thanks to this grant and to Congresswoman DeLauro.”
In her remarks, Congresswoman DeLauro said, “We ought to be supporting science in greater fashion and investing in it in a greater fashion.” That will help young people “understand nature, not just look at it and say, ‘Wow, isn’t that nice?’ “
The Coastal Center will serve as a teacher training hub supporting education programs across four additional Connecticut Audubon regions and centers.
The bulk of the funding will be used to hire additional science educators and to upgrade the Coastal Center building, to make sure it complies with the standards of the American with Disabilities Act.
When the Connecticut Audubon Society was founded 125 years ago, one of its original goals was to teach young people about birds and conservation. The timing of this grant is a perfect way to celebrate that anniversary.
“It’s a game-changer,” Comins said. “It’s the foundation of an important program. The results can only be good for conservation in Connecticut.
“For that, let me once again thank Representative Rosa DeLauro, on behalf of the Connecticut Audubon Society but more importantly on behalf of all the school children who will benefit over the years.”
Remarks by Executive Director Patrick Comins, delivered at the announcement of a federal grant to support outdoor science education in Connecticut:
Back in 2012, in our annual Connecticut State of the Birds report, we worried about Connecticut’s young people and their interest in the outdoors. We asked the question “Where is the next generation of Conservationists Coming from?”
Our contribution to helping solve the problem was to create the Science in Nature education program and to bring it to Connecticut’s schools. A decade later, Connecticut Audubon is providing 40,000 hours of hands-on science education to 20,000 students in the state each year.
It’s been a successful program, and now it’s going to get even better, thanks to this grant and to Congresswoman DeLauro.
The grant we are celebrating today, the day before Earth Day, will let us increase our Science in Nature education for kids in kindergarten through 5th grade by at least 50 percent. Think of that. 40,000 hours will become 60,000 hours. 20,000 children will be 30,000 children.
Connecticut’s school kids — from Norwalk to New London, from Pomfret to Bridgeport, including a large percentage of title 1 schools — will be involved in outdoor, hands-on learning that meets Next Generation Science Standards.
These young scientists will collect data using the same methods as grown-up scientists. They will learn how humans, wildlife, and the natural world are connected.
Best of all perhaps is that they will do this while exploring the woods, meadows, marshes in their own communities.
The lessons start outdoors and are then brought back to the classroom.
That last part is important because it means that the learning will continue.
The grant will let us transform this Milford Point Coastal Center into a hub for training teachers not just from nearby but from four other Connecticut Audubon regions too: Fairfield County, the Pomfret area, Hartford and its neighboring towns, and the southeastern communities from Old Lyme to New London. Basically, almost all of Connecticut.
Teachers will learn how to incorporate the lessons from the field into the classroom. We rely on a teach-the-teacher environment so teachers can help each other learn science concepts that are mandated by the state but that can be difficult to teach in the classroom.
More school kids will be outdoors, experimenting and learning. More teachers will be trained to teach them.
It’s a game-changer. It’s the foundation of an important program. The results can only be good for conservation in Connecticut.
For that, let me once again thank Representative Rosa DeLauro, on behalf of the Connecticut Audubon Society but more importantly on behalf of all the school children who will benefit over the years.