Giving Compass’ Take:
• Green Schoolyards America is a nonprofit that aims to increase the number of schools’ participating in the green schoolyard movement which centers on combining environmental education and community engagement.
• What types of equity lessons can kids gain from outdoor education?
• Read about the importance of access to environmental education.
What are we growing in our garden?” Wanda Stewart asks a class of third graders at Hoover Elementary School in Oakland, California. The room erupts with a garden medley: “Watermelon!” “Cherries!” “Spinach!” “Eggplant!”
Hoover devotes 5,600 square feet to the cultivation of at least 50 different kinds of fruits, vegetables, herbs, bushes, and fruit trees. Even though it’s a cash-strapped inner-city school, its garden yields enough organic produce to merit inclusion in West Oakland’s farmers’ market.
Sharon Danks looks to Hoover as a model for other K-12 schools. Danks is the founder and executive director of Green Schoolyards America, a Berkeley, California-based, nonprofit that seeks to expand and strengthen the green schoolyard movement currently flourishing in cities such as Tokyo and Berlin and beginning to take root in the United States.
The idea is to transform schoolyards from a 1940s-era asphalt-and-grass model to ecologically diverse landscapes that connect nature and environmental sustainability with place-based, hands-on learning while building community and democratic participation.
“We’re equally interested in outcomes for children’s learning and health and social-emotional well-being as we are in watersheds, habitats, air quality, and climate change.” Ultimately, the green schoolyards movement is about modeling ecologically rich cities of the future that we might like to live in and, in the process, restoring our relationship with the natural world.
Green Schoolyards America has been working across school, city, and state levels to make this movement happen. For example, it started a Principals’ Institute in 2016 to provide professional development for principals to adopt and sustain green schoolyard programs, and to encourage the integration of schoolyards into lesson planning.
Read the full article about ecological education by Adrienne Day at Stanford Social Innovation Review
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