kids learning about nature

Learning Landscapes

This year marks the launch of the Conservancy’s educational outreach program, Learning Landscapes, which works to conserve land within walking distance of schools in our region and to support educators to use these field sites for outdoor learning with their students.

We’re focused on outdoor learning because of the enormous impact it can have on kids. Research shows that outdoor learning increases students’ physical, mental and social health, as well as their overall academic performance.

Importantly, outdoor learning also increases students’ understanding of their natural and human communities, fostering not only a sense of place, but an ethic of care. Through Learning Landscapes, we’re excited to be a part of raising the next generation of active citizens who understand the importance of taking care of our shared landscape.

kids outside learning nature
girl holding tiny turtle
girl looking at nature sample

With Conservancy-protected properties adjacent to their K-12 campuses, we’re kicking this initiative off through partnerships with Eastwood (Bell Woods / Pat & Clint Mauk’s Prairie) and Otsego Local Schools (Fox-Shank Living Laboratory).  Building relationships, this fall we went into the schools, shared program objectives, and asked the teachers to fill out a survey. We wanted to hear how the teachers feel about outdoor learning and to understand how best we can support them.

We’re using this valuable feedback to develop ways to help teachers get their students outside. In August, we’ve planned a 2-day educator workshop where conservation presenters will share outdoor learning’s best practices.

We’ve also submitted grant requests in hopes of creating a Learning Landscapes lending library at each school where classes can borrow backpacks outfitted with nature exploring tools and rain gear, as well as offering more teacher trainings and developing a volunteer program to provide teachers with additional adult help.

Your continued support will help us further create and expand these meaningful outdoor learning experiences for kids in our community. These experiences encourage kids to be curious, explore, discover, and learn with the feel of the sun on their faces and mud squishing under their boots.