Going outside, getting kids’ hands dirty, getting up close and personal with the region’s biodiversity — that’s what the Appalachian Green Teachers Project is all about.

Appalachian Green Teacher Curt Moore, a 5th grade science teacher at Trimble Elementary, incorporates field trips and outdoor lessons into his classroom.

Instead of studying science at desks, 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, and teacher training. Teachers provide their own expertise, ideas, and extensions for the classroom.

Would you like Rural Action to visit your classroom? Contact Darcy Higgins at darcy@ruralaction.org or (740) 767-2225 to set up a program! We also provide field trips and outdoor learning sessions for in-service days. Lessons are customized to each school’s curriculum needs.

Looking for the Appalachian Green Teachers Conference? Join us for this 2-day professional development opportunity for educators at Burr Oak State Park each fall.

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
  • Studied the impact of Acid Mine Drainage on local waterways
  • Designed and created artwork based on Ohio birds and mammals
  • Planted ginseng to care for the health of the school woods

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 understanding of the place and land they live on, students have the tools they need to make informed decisions about natural resources in their communities.

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.

Addressing economic justice

At the same time, educational injustices are present in lower socioeconomic classes and students in this region are at risk of not receiving the same educational benefits of wealthier school districts. Rural Action works to close this gap by providing 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.