“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.” —John James Audubon
Every April we pause to reflect upon our environment as part of the annual Earth Day commemoration. There are Earth Day celebrations and renewed efforts to recycle, reuse and restore in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Here at Episcopal there are daily opportunities for students to learn more about the environment and their role in protecting our natural resources.
“Students love learning about the earth and how they can take care of it,” says fifth grade science teacher Eric DiMari. DiMari’s students recently embarked on a lesson on biomes that will require them to research and eventually educate fellow classmates on the biome of their choice. Earlier this year, DiMari’s students also studied Louisiana’s wetlands, the causes of wetland destruction and potential ways to save them.
In addition, third graders recently participated in a Mini Ecosystem Fair as part of their study of the Louisiana ecosystem. Experts from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Coastal Conservation Authority and LSU, along with Episcopal alumnus Rory McCracken '17 and Instigator Betsy Minton shared their environmental knowledge. The guest speakers brought soil and fur samples, fishing rods, photos and even live crawfish to provide students the opportunity to personally interact with nature.
“Why can’t we just send them water?” asked a sixth grade science student after learning about the water crisis in South Sudan.
Sixth graders are also learning about planet earth. Students in Stacy Hill’s science class recently completed an extensive study of earth’s most precious natural resource – water. Students learned about everything from condensation to conservation. They even had an opportunity to make their own water filters out of everyday objects. Hill says the lesson created an awareness among the students about the importance of access to clean water and a desire to help those who do not have that access.
“The coastal roots program is a great way to educate students of all ages regarding their own personal role in regards to the environment.” Betsy Minton, Instigator.
Each year, students in Lower and Upper School participate in the coastal roots program. Third graders plant the seeds of bald cypress and tupelo trees in cells on Episcopal’s campus. The seeds are then monitored and cared for by the Upper School environmental science students as they sprout and grow into seedlings. Once the seedlings are mature enough, students plant them in the Bonnet Carre Spillway to replenish vegetation in the region. This year was the first time the Lower School students had the opportunity to join their Upper School counterparts on the planting field trip. The fifth graders were excited to participate, and many even remembered planting the seeds as a third grader.
Why is it important for students to learn about their environment?
“The future generations are the future caretakers of the earth. The more educated they are about the planet, the more effective they will be,” answered DiMari.
Hill and Minton agree.
“Educating young people about the earth and environment gives students the opportunity to apply content knowledge to the world around them. It shows them how their class is relevant to the real world and hopefully guides them towards being environmentally aware citizens,” said Hill.
“Our Louisiana ecosystem is so fragile that it’s up to their generation to fix it. Hopefully learning more about the environment early on will inspire them to create innovations for change later on,” says Minton.
True to the Episcopal mission, the diocese has launched a Stewardship of Creation effort. Bishop Thompson has formed an environmental commission in an effort to bring awareness of the increasing challenges facing our natural environment and therefore the people of Southeast Louisiana. In a letter to the community, Joey Clavijo, Chair for The Bishop’s Environmental Commission, says the commission will lead discussions to draw upon individual gifts to bring about concrete actions to restore and sustain the environment. The group is asking members of the Episcopal community who are interested in participating to complete a survey expressing their interest. Click here to access the survey.
Every year, Earth Day is observed on April 22nd. At Episcopal, students are learning about their environment each day of the school year. We hope such focus and care inspires the next generation to preserve God’s creation.
Want to get more involved? Check out these helpful resources:
Calculate your household water usage - https://www.watercalculator.org/
The Red Stick Green Guide - https://www.brla.gov/DocumentCenter/View/2561
Baton Rouge Recycling Center - https://www.brla.gov/890/Recycling-Office
2018 Mayor’s Earth Day Challenge - https://www.brla.gov/1537/7590/Mayors-Water-Challenge