Prairie Science Class Partnership Receiving International Recognition
The North American Association for Environmental Education recently announced that it is recognizing the Prairie Science Class partnership at its annual conference on October 18. The Association will be recognizing this long-running education program by presenting the partnership with the Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization at the Regional Level Award.
Groups from Canada, Mexico and the United States are eligible for this annual award that recognizes efforts in promoting and providing environmental education leadership. Recipients must have made significant and visible contributions to environmental education and should be known for dedicated service.
“We are thrilled, humbled, and honored that the success of the Prairie Science Class partnership is being noticed by our professional colleagues across the continent,” stated Cleveland Elementary Principal Tindyl Rund.
“Many individuals have contributed their ideas, passion, and energy to it since its inception, and we are grateful for this ongoing collaborative effort,” continued Rund.
Past award recipients include Earth Day Network, the U.S. Green Building Council, and Audubon Center of the North Woods.
The Prairie Science Class, housed at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center and Cleveland Elementary School, is a partnership between the Fergus Falls Public Schools and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Now in its twelfth year, more than 200 fourth and fifth grade students spend half of their school day at Cleveland and half at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, which is managed by the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Prairie Science Class students spend time daily in their outdoor classroom at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center using the local prairie wetlands ecosystem to integrate science, applied math, language arts, art, health, and social studies. Remaining subjects are taught at Cleveland School. Nine school district teachers instruct Prairie Science Class students daily, four at Cleveland and five at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center. Fergus Falls Wetland Management District educators provide indoor and outdoor classroom leadership weekly.
“As the Service strives to share the many valuable lessons we have learned, the Prairie Science Class is creating a ripple effect outside of Fergus Falls and Minnesota to the Midwest and beyond,” said Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius.
The instructional model for the Prairie Science Class has been applied to environmental education practices at six National Wildlife Refuges in five Midwestern states.
The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center is comprised of 330 acres of wetlands and prairies, and includes a visitor center with classrooms, exhibit hall, and dining area, plus four miles of trails and 28 wetlands. It is located on State Highway 210 East, south of Fergus Falls, one mile from exit 57 off I-94.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws/gov.
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