Environmental Education program for early learners

Since 2016, Oxbow has been working with educators from Frank Wagner Elementary to develop and implement year-long, all-season programming held at the farm, in the classroom, and in the school’s new greenspace. The initiative grew out of an interest, expressed by Frank Wagner’s kindergarten teachers, to collaborate with Oxbow to provide their students regular access to the outdoors. At the partnership’s start, the school had little outdoor green space and the children were largely limited to indoor learning.

 A grant from the EPA* is allowing Oxbow to develop new programming for early learners, work with the school to design and improve outdoor green spaces, and provide multiple environmental education experiences during students’ kindergarten year. Oxbow is working hand-in-hand with Frank Wagner teachers to link lessons delivered in different seasons and settings and to ensure that they meet Next Generation Science Standards. Other partners on the project are EduCulture, Farmer Frog, Nature Vision, OPSI’s Education for Environment and Sustainability program, and the University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School.

Pilot year and current phase II

The partnership’s pilot year (2016-2017) focused on lesson development and delivering the program, team building, and professional development with Oxbow’s Farmer-Educators and Frank Wagner teachers. The current phase II (2017-2018) involves monthly environmental education lessons and links activities from month to month. Topics of focus include: crop life cycles (emphasis on pumpkins and apples); nature and animal habitats; plant and animal needs; and animal adaptations. Students participating in the program have shown enthusiasm and affinity for science learning. Early learning offers a critical window to build science skills and connect to nature – Oxbow is proud to be a part of the students’ formative experiences as they interact with and learn about the environment.

Oxbow’s Farmer-Educators have produced a series of short videos to prepare the students for their farm visits and lessons. Here is the team’s most recent film: Welcome! Spring Orchard Field Trip 2018 (YouTube)

*EPA grant #01J26201. Additional support for this project is provided through matching funds from Raven Trust Fund and through private donations made by Oxbow’s generous supporters. For questions about the project, please contact us.