Have you seen kids excited for a salad party? Kids who participated in GreenKids’ Salad Science program are.
Salad Science is just one of the fun programs offered by GreenKids program at Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS). Students grow their own salad greens and learn about plant parts and nutrition over a six-week period. At the end of the program, students partake in a salad party—with toppings provided by Whole Foods Market—to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Such programming enables GreenKids to leave its mark on students and is a big reason the program received a 2012 Bethesda Magazine Green award.
GreenKids is a grant-funded educational outreach program that establishes two-year partnerships with participating schools. It offers free resources and field experiences—with the ultimate goal of receiving Maryland Green School Certification from the Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.
ANS Deputy Director Lisa Alexander started the program as a pilot in 2005, eager to assist her child’s school, Rock Creek Forest, become a Green School. The pilot program led to new knowledge and exciting possibilities for environmental education.
Since 2005, GreenKids has raised more than $1 million to directly support the environmental science literacy of Montgomery County and Loudon County Public School students and teachers. The program has engaged more than 28,000 students with hands-on lessons.
The goal of GreenKids is to connect students with the natural world and instill in them the understanding “that there is more to life than just you,” said Diane Lill, Director of the GreenKids program. Through lessons focused on composting, gardening, recycling, watershed education, energy conservation, and habitat restoration, this program allows students to learn more about the role they play in our world. Enthusiastic students learn about natural resources and the process of growing their own food.
The program also supports some wonderful (and sometimes under-appreciated) teachers with professional development and works with teachers to make these programs an enduring part of the curriculum.
Through fun activities and outdoor trips, GreenKids provides students and teachers with great knowledge that will last them a lifetime. “What do you remember from elementary school?” Diane asks, “Awesome field trip, outdoor activities, or perhaps an amazing teacher?”—all of which GreenKids encapsulates.
Diane’s work for GreenKids came full circle at the 2012 Bethesda Green Gala. During her speech, Diane thanked the teachers that took her outside as a young student. Following her speech, two Gala attendees inquired about her outdoor experiences as a child. To her amazement, she realized that they were teachers from both her Outdoor Environmental Education and C&O Canal experiences and was encouraged that they are still involved in the green movement. “One field trip can have an amazing experience on someone’s life,” she explained. It is obvious her experiences as a child had a lasting impact; perhaps her current students will contribute to the green movement in years to come as well.
To find out more about the 2013 Bethesda Green Gala, click here.
Article by Sumi Shrestha, Bethesda Green.
Photos by Balance Photography and James Kegley