Earthkeepers is a comprehensive environmental science program geared to 4th graders. The on-site portion of the program lasts three full days at the Earthkeepers Training Center, in T.R.E.E.’s Outdoor Classroom at Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve in Barataria. The Earthkeepers staff and the classroom teacher combine efforts to provide a dynamic, effective learning experience. The teacher will continue this program back at school which will encourage the students to continue to apply their learning beyond the classroom.
The Earthkeepers program helps young people understand the life support systems of the planet while developing a personal relationship with the Earth and its life. The program deals with four basic ecological concepts – the flow of energy, the cycling of materials, the interrelating of life, and the changing of forms. Participants also experience the richness of the earth through first-hand contact with the natural world.
Another important component of the program is asking the participants to examine their personal lifestyle, committing themselves to individual changes that will reduce impact upon the systems of life. This commitment is greatly magnified by helping others back at school to know and to care about the earth, the final component of the program.
The following are some important points you’ll want to know:
- Earthkeepers has been run by T.R.E.E. since 2001, reaching about 800 4th grade students per year.
- T.R.E.E. and school personnel provide a 1 to 4 adult to student ratio during the program. Students are NEVER without adult supervision.
- T.R.E.E. educators are highly trained, caring and committed. The class receives direct instruction from T.R.E.E staff. The students are divided into small working groups of three to four by the teacher, so during each activity students have full participation in the hands-on activities. This provides for personal, quality learning for each child.
- Students provide their own lunches.
- The cost of the Earthkeepers program includes EVERYTHING! (Included in the cost is bus transportation, site fees, all supplies for activities, and instruction by T.R.E.E.’s highly trained staff.)
The three-day program at the Earthkeeper Training Center is very busy. Each day is filled with a complete schedule of experiential learning activities that are covered in five categories. Following are descriptions of these categories and their Criteria.
Each activity focuses on basic ecological concepts (energy flow, interrelationships, and change) and utilizes a problem solving storyline and analogies common to everyday life to bring hard to understand ecological principles to life.
The purpose of the immersing activities is to develop a feeling of closeness to and caring for the earth and it’s life. They are sensory, barrier breaking experiences that make the familiar, unfamiliar by changing the participant’s perspective, and involves direct contact with the natural world.
Diary Walk (Discovery Party)
The target of the Discovery Party is to build a sense of wonder and place. It encourages personal exploration and discovery while having just enough structure for the group.
Earthwalks offer fresh, new ways of experiencing the wonders and magic of nature. Brief, structured, hands-on activities introduce the natural world in a non-identifying, non-threatening way. An Earthwalk involves total participation on the part of the students.
Solitude Enhancing Expererience
Magic Spots time provides an opportunity for each student to develop a quiet, safe, and comfortable relationship with one particular place in the natural world. The student returns to this spot each day to sit, absorb, reflect, and dream.
Classroom Follow-Through (Completing the Program)
Follow through takes place back at school and at home where students do additonal activities to complete the program.