Programs Environmental Education
For over 20 years, Residents has been committed to bringing environmental education into Port Washington’s schools to deepen student understanding of the environment and the role they can play in protecting it.
Residents’ mission is to organize a curriculum that starts in first grade and builds in depth and complexity as students move from grade to grade. Residents identifies and funds top environmental educators and institutions around Long Island to run these programs that explore key topics such as recycling, natural habitats, sustainability, global warming and environmental health. Because these programs are funded through grants and private donors through Residents, this tremendous enrichment is provided at no cost to the school district.
Existing Elementary school programs are integrated into the curriculum and cover a wide range of environmental topics including Gifts From the Earth (a national Grassroots Environmental Education Program), being a friend to trees (originally conceived by Grassroots Environmental Education and later adapted by educator Lisa Grossman), Pond Studies (a local Alley Pond Environmental Center Program), our local habitat (a local Volunteers for Wildlife Program) and environmental history and our unique relationship with water and conservation on our peninsula (a Grassroots Environmental Education Program).
Three years ago, Residents launched an innovative curriculum extension called the Environmental Passport Program. The program is funded with a grant from the Port Washington-based Jaggar Foundation. Elementary school students each receive a passport custom tailored to the grade level environmental-education programs taught in school. Designed as a take-away, the passports encourage students to act as environmental advocates and educators at home and in the community. The students who complete three passport activities will be recognized as Green Team Leaders and will have the opportunity to work with Residents during the coming school year as ambassadors, helping with both in-school and community wide environmental stewardship initiatives.
In the Middle and High School, environmental programs are currently delivered on demand to aid educators with specific environmental topics. In addition, we are working with the upper grades to pilot programs aligned with the curriculum to continue to inform and educate our students on how they can make a difference.
Here is a list of environmental education programs by grade:
This program, created and presented by Grassroots Environmental Education, introduces our youngest children to some of the gifts that the earth gives us air, water, soil, sun and wind and what we can do as a community to take the best care of them
Building on “Gifts from the Earth”, originally conceived by Grassroots Environmental Education, updated and now presented through volunteer efforts of teacher Lisa Grossman, explains the wonderful gifts trees provide the earth, which includes a lesson on photosynthesis. The importance of recycling as a way to save trees is discussed.
A field trip to Baxter Pond, presented by Alley Pond Environmental Center, helps students become active “environmentalists,” learning about the pond’s ecosystem. Students learn and see firsthand why they need to be so diligent with recycling and minimizing toxins in our waters.
Students explore Port Washington’s local living environment and physical setting in the 4th grade curriculum through multiple programs. Residents provides support for Volunteers for Wildlife to educate our students about our local bird habitat. In addition, other organizations present programs throughout the year including a tour of the Sands Point and Guggenheim Preserves with Geologist and Naturalist Tour Guides, the experience of a live Osprey and Owl show, and a tour of the Port Washington Sand Miners monument and history. These programs give students a deeper connection with our town, and preserving its future while building on their environmental knowledge.
This more sophisticated program, created and presented by Grassroots Environmental Education, enables students to more deeply explore the origins of their drinking water. Grassroots’ staff teach students basic hydrogeology and the process by which pollutants can contaminate water supplies. Also discussed are the steps individuals, families and communities can take to reduce water use.
Students that complete the passport program and become Green Team Leaders for their school are invited to participate in projects and programs that create a more sustainable school culture and community at large. Recent projects include the Get Your Green On campaign, Trash Talking exhibit at Bay Walk, piloting a “Cool the Earth” assembly, planting bulbs in the Blumenfeld Family Park and planting mums at the Town Dock. This program is funded by The Jaggar Foundation.
Get Your Green On! Cool the Earth
Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington is piloting an assembly this year at Manorhaven Elementary School on global warming and things we can do to help. Students learn that one of the reasons global warming is occurring is because too much of the sun’s heat gets trapped in the earth’s atmosphere - making the earth hotter than it should be. The assembly offers students actions they can take to help Cool the Earth. They then take home a pledge book, inviting them to take on action! Students that return a pledge card to the collection box in the main office will become Green Team Leaders for their school and receive a FREE Get Your Green On Reusable Water Bottle.
Weber “How Green is Port Washington”
Tying in with sixth grade ecology curriculum, Residents speaks to students about local initiatives to increase sustainability on the peninsula including: the dredging of Mill Pond, clean-up of Sheets Creek, recycling and water conservation. Pilot programs have been introduced at Weber covering the biology of our local ecosystem by mapping nature trails with the Town of North Hempstead and advanced recycling issues with Grassroots Environmental Education.
Clean Green Main Street
Each year Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington invites science students from Weber and Schreiber to volunteer at a clean up of Main Street during Earth Month where they are assigned a job ranging from picking up litter to weeding and mulching tree beds to planting flowers. If unchecked, the debris picked up at this clean up would run off into the bay.
Throughout the year, Residents presents a series of community forums and programs that create a synergy between environmental education in the classroom and environmental issues facing the community. Families gain and share knowledge together. Residents encourages environmental education by participating through Main Street clean-ups, participation in community events and by educating families of elementary school students through passport program projects at home.