The Mass Cultural Council Funds 10 Naturalist-in-Residence Programs

December 14, 2017

Hitchcock Center environmental educators will be partnering with ten area schools thanks to over $36,000 in grant funding support from the Mass Cultural Council’s STARS (Students and Teachers working with Artists, Scientists, and Scholars) program. STARS funding recognizes the vital role that creative learning in the arts, sciences, and humanities plays in successful education of young people.

This year, the Hitchcock Center will be working with over 1,529 teachers and students, 66 classrooms, and 10 schools from within 6 districts: Amherst Regional, Belchertown, Northampton, Rowe, Russell, and Ware School Districts.

“This is an opportunity to connect children to nature and to gain a greater sense of their own place in the world. Our residencies help students learn about life around them by being outside, exploring, and being curious.”  – Helen Ann Sephton, Hitchcock Center School Programs Coordinator

Helen Ann, and another Hitchcock environmental educator, Peter Lamdin will be working with Crocker Farm, Fort River, Pelham, Wildwood Elementary Schools within the Amherst School District, where their residencies will focus on systems and cycles in nature as well as biodiversity and adaptations.

Hitchcock environmental educator Ted Watt will be working in Russell, at Ryan Road School in Northampton, and in Rowe. His residencies will use nature and science to support learning across subjects including science, engineering, technology and design to strengthen environmental stewardship and sustainability skills.

“I love our residencies because it gives us an opportunity to work much more in-depth with students, faculty and staff in a single school. The most fun for me is getting students outside where they can tap into their own excitement as the discover natural world around the and teachers can develop confidence and competency in spending school time outdoors with their classes. Teachers learn how to handle perceived risks outdoors and see the incredible enthusiasm that their students display in this different learning environment. Many teachers have told me that they see sides of their students that they never see otherwise – especially those who don’t excel in the traditional classroom settings but who shine when they’re searching under logs for salamanders or netting dragonfly larvae in the pond!” – Ted Watt, Hitchcock Environmental Educator

Hitchcock environmental educator Katie Koerten will be teaching new curriculum entitle Rube Goldberg Machines in all of the 3rd grade classrooms at Stanley M. Koziol Elementary in Ware and Swift River Elementary in Belchertown. While Katie has lead our Nature Summer Camps and Homeschool Programs for many years, this will be her first time she will be a naturalist-in-residence.

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