Shane Gibson is getting kids out of the classroom and into nature and encouraging them to think about the earth as part of them — not just the planet they live on.
Gibson, environmental education director for Sycamore Land Trust, will bring his free curriculum of hikes, hands-on demonstrations and education to several school districts, including Monroe County Community Schools Corporation this fall, according to a press release.
Last year, Sycamore Land Trust’s environmental education director made more than 10 visits to four different classrooms in the Monroe County school district.
Sycamore Land Trust, a regional non-profit organization, was founded in 1990. A land trust is a non-profit organization that works to conserve land through acquisition or holding land easements — a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency to permanently limit use of the land in order to protect its conservation value.
There are currently 1,700 land trusts across the U.S.
Sycamore Land Trust offers these educational programs to get kids thinking about nature and not as something to fear.
Abby Perfetti, communications director for Sycamore Land Trust, said Gibson will do 10 hour-long programs to build the connection with classroom students and teachers.
“He takes kids on a path of educating them on the environment through hands-on activities and classroom activities to really connect them with nature in other ways,” Perfetti said.
He spends time with the students with cross-disciplinary lessons such as reading a book and going outside to talk about the questions raised by the book and what the students observe, according to the release.
Gibson was honored as a 2016 Community Partner with the MCCSC for his 90 hours of work in the district last year.
Perfetti says the environmental education program is important to put in classrooms, because the younger someone is when they get in touch with nature, the longer it will last throughout their life.
“It becomes more important to you when it’s been a part of your life,” Perfetti said. “A lot of people who aren’t around nature won’t think about it, and then when they get around a bug or a tree they haven’t seen before, they don’t know what to do.”
For teachers who want to use the environmental education programs in their classrooms, visit sycamorelandtrust.org/environmental-education.
Perfetti said the trust hopes the long term programming in classrooms will help kids understand on a deeper level the connections between the Earth and their own lives.
“It all impacts us, and impacts the earth,” Perfetti said. “Once you have the personal experience you want to take care of it more.”