Appalachian Green Teachers Project

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Going outside, getting kids’ hands dirty, getting up close and personal with the region’s biodiversity–that’s what the Appalachian Green Teacher Project (AGTP) is all about.

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Instead of studying science at desks and looking at diagrams of plants in books, Rural Action takes kids out to interact with the living plants, animals, and ecosystems in their own backyards. Here’s how it works: Rural Action partners with enthusiastic teachers in southeast Ohio schools. We provide expert environmental educators, field trips, resources and support, ideas, and teacher training. Teachers provide their own expertise, ideas, and extensions for the classroom.

Appalachian Green Teachers have:

        • Built a 1/4-mile-long trail and outdoor classroom
        • Joined our Youth Climate Action Team
        • Started or improved recycling programs at their schools
        • Studied salamander populations in headwater streams
        • Created a field guide to their school’s land lab
        • Created interpretive signs in their school land labs
        • Studied the impacts of Acid Mine Drainage on local waterways
        • Designed and created artwork based on Ohio birds and mammals
        • Worked to incorporate local foods into their school lunches

(Click to enlarge map.)

When Appalachian Green students go out to experience nature, they’re learning more effectively–the number of 5th graders passing the state science tests in Green Teacher Angie Plant’s classes increased from 71% in 2011 to 86% in 2012. This result was maintained in 2013 with an 87% passing rate. The experiences students have with flowering plants, insects, and habitats are memorable, meaningful ones that students can draw on again and again throughout the year.

Students build a sense of place.

Outside, students connect with the local land that is their home and heritage. Appalachian Ohio is part of one of the most biodiverse temperate eco-regions in the world. By improving their understandings of the place and land they live on, students have the tools they need to make informed decisions about natural resources in their communities.

Addressing economic justice.

Because financial resources are limited in Southeastern Ohio, many local schools do not have the opportunity to integrate outdoor education into classes. Even if schools do have funding for field trips, equipment, and supplies, teachers and classes benefit from having a partner in Rural Action to build hands-on and relevant content that helps meet learning goals and state standards.

At the same time, educational injustices are present in lower socioeconomic classes and students in this region are at risk for not receiving the same educational benefits of wealthier school districts. Rural Action works to close this gap by provding assistance with funds, buses, co-teaching, and affordable training opportunities.

Opening possibilities for disadvantaged students.

Students in Appalachian Green Teachers’ classes meet real professionals in natural resources management, ecotourism, recreation and other important local industries. By bringing outdoor experiences into schools and connecting students with local experts, Rural Action and its partners help support academic and career paths in these fields.