Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lake Wilderness Students Head to the Arboretum

Sustainability was more than just a big word for second-graders last week, it became something that students could touch and see and even feel with their feet, on a field trip to the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.

Second grade students from Rock Creek and Lake Wilderness visited the arboretum as part of their studies about Pacific Northwest Native Americans. The visit included exploring the Tribal Life Trail, which spotlights plants that the Native Americans used to sustain themselves, a lesson in plant identification and listening to a legend story.

The students from Lake Wilderness were able to have extra practice implementing sustainability, walking from the school to the arboretum.
Students from Rock Creek pose in front of the totem pole, which marks the entrance to the Tribal Life Trail.

Students were encouraged to touch some of the plants and trees and to try to guess what the Native Americans might have used them for.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Magical Moment

Our students and community at Glacier Park are taking advantage of a wonderful new outdoor display case and science tools to support learning.  Right now, the display features information about resident and migratory birds.  In the case is a story for teachers to read to their class, three sets of binoculars, and a book so students can identify birds they see in the garden.  Last week, Cathy Haws class went out to the garden to harvest potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and squash.  After they finished they sat in the garden and read about Rufus the hummingbird.  In the story the hummingbird visits the fields in the foothills of Mount Rainer to store up fat for his long migration to Mexico.  Just then a Rufus hummingbird visited the garden and feasted on the nectar in the feeder.  Then as if they knew the story a second hummingbird arrived and the first defended his territory.  In the words of both teacher and students,  "It was magical!"

The Watershed Report Premiere

A few Tahoma Students and Staff at the Premiere
Last night was the third annual premiere of the Watershed Report, it’s also my third year being a part of the Watershed Report Student Leadership Team. I have been growing with the Watershed Report program for these past few years. Our program has developed a strong template for reporting sustainability trends. We repeat a certain annual rhythm, or process, each year. Each year we refine this rhythm with the ultimate goal of replicating it in other communities. Repeat, refine, replicate.  

At the same time I am gaining knowledge and shifting mental models towards sustainability.
As my involvement with the Watershed Report has grown, I have discovered my role and mission in this program. I am the template for future watershed students. Each year that I repeat the annual rhythm of the report I am refining my knowledge and skills. The ultimate goal for me is to replicate my success in this program with other students. I am the first student to be a part of our new internship program on the Watershed Report Internship program through Bellevue College. My internship is an internship on developing internships for our new program. This fall I will create the templates for future internships, and next summer we will repeat the internships with other students. My templates will then be refined and can be replicated for years to come. Repeat, refine replicate.                                                                                            

          Last night’s premiere was my chance to see other students presenting in front of large crowd for the first. As I was watching them introducing this years reports, I could picture myself up their three years ago squeezing the podium with my clammy hands. I think I was more nervous than they look. These days I feel much more confident when speaking, and it’s simply because of the skills I have refined through my work on the Watershed Report team. I’m excited to head into a fourth year on the team as a leader and template for other students.                                                                                                                                            

          At the end of our presentation I met an Environmental Engineer from King County who was really impressed with our work. Even more so, he was personally excited about our work because he was doing the same thing 35 years ago. He was in Jr. High School using a black and white snap shot camera, cassette tapes for sound, and little plastic note cards as a teleprompter. Talking with him was like going back in time a little bit. It was a heartfelt experience to speak with someone who’s lived their life doing the work I am just beginning. I think it was just as great for him to see that the environmental he began in Jr. High has kept momentum in the future generations and the ambassadors of future possibilities.

Blog Post by By Cassandra, Senior at Tahoma High School
President THS Sustainability Ambassadors club
Member of the Watershed Report student leadership team 


Thursday, September 6, 2012

National Wildlife Federation Certifies a New Habitat in Maple Valley

National Wildlife Federation announces Glacier Park Elementary in Maple Valley is an Official Certified Wildlife Habitat.  The garden attracts a variety of birds, butterflies, squirrels, and bees by providing a wildlife friendly landscape. NWF teaches the importance of environmental stewardship by providing guidelines for making landscapes more hospitable to wildlife.  In order to become certified, a property must provide the four basic elements that all wildlife need: food, water, cover, and places to raise young.  In addition, to providing for wildlife, certified habitats conserve our natural resources by reducing or eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  

The Glacier Park Garden has two new educational display boxes that can be filled with activities for teachers to share with their class when they visit the garden.  The display cases were an Eagle Scout Project organized and directed by Billy Wheeler of Troop 945.  Currently, when classes visit the educational displays, students can learn about habitats, identify native and migratory birds, and read a story about a Rufus hummingbird that is migratory in the Puget Sound.

Thanks to Cathy Haws, GPES Green Team Leader