No Child Left Inside
Kalamazoo was selected by the Children & Nature Network & W.K. Kellogg Foundation as one of three communities in Michigan to design, facilitate and implement a community-based process for improving the lives of vulnerable children. The aim of the process is to shape happier, healthier, kids who do better in school, through direct connections with the outdoors in their everyday lives. Research has shown that childhood obesity, diabetes, depression and attention deficit disorders may be improved by reversing the current trends which disconnect children from nature.
View the Community Action Plan here.
Outside in Our Schoolyard
The primary goal(s) of this program was to get students outside to explore, observe, appreciate, and connect with the natural environment in and around their schoolyard. In this third year the the number of students increased from 68 in the 2010 pilot program to 150 students from 4 schools in suburban and urban neighborhoods, El Sol and Woodward Elementary in Kalamazoo Public Schools, The Montessori School in Kalamazoo, and Mattawan Elementary School.
During shared field trips the students are split into groups, mixing the schools, which vary greatly in diversity and socioecomic backgrounds. Students are then encouraged to partner up with someone from a different school. Each group rotates through Naturalist led activities which includes journaling, identification, observation, water ecology, team building, and invasive species (Garlic Mustard) identification and control.
In this third year, the project expand in scope to provide an opportunity for the third-fifth graders to participate in a national imperiled butterflies project. Students will investigate the life cycle of native butterfliies, how to track them and preserve their habitats. Each school will create or extend an established native plants garden in their schoolyard with the aim of becoming a Monarch Watch Station. With the help of local experts, they will focus on adding plants that provide habitats for native butterflies, to serve as an ongoing, living laboratory for environmental studies.
Along with the schoolyard visits, students will visit the Kalamazoo Nature Center to participate in activities and a service day at Western Michigan Universities Asylum Lake Preserve will focus on community building and conservation activities.
Check this out! Woodward Elementary School teacher Josh Brown took Garlic Mustard removal a step further when his class prepared Garlic Mustard dishes in class and video taped the culinary chaos - see the video below for a step-by-step of this project.
Special thanks to our partners Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo Public Schools, The Montessori School and Mattawan Elementary, and our many volunteers, with funding from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and Getman Corporation.