Lasting Memories and Learning Experiences with Environmental Science
by Anita Brown, Program Officer
“You have made a difference in the lives of my students. Thank you for making this trip possible. It was an unforgettable trip with lasting memories and learning experiences.” –Kristen Nevarez, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, Burbank Elementary School
Kristen Nevarez and Elia Bustamente, two teachers at Burbank Elementary School in Hayward, each received an Environmental Science Resource Grant during the 2017-2018 school year, and they used the funds to take their students to Vida Verde in San Gregorio to learn about conservation, recycling, and environmental awareness.
“Vida Verde is an organization whose mission is to bring education outdoors, particularly for students of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. They fundraise money and receive donations so that our students can attend their education rich camping experience at no cost to the school or to the students,” explained Elia. However, the teachers were left to fundraise for food and transportation costs, and our Environmental Science Resource Grants covered the cost of one bus for the group to get to San Gregorio.
What the students learned in class from their textbooks—about “plants and animals, internal and external structures, food webs, energy and fuels, and how humans affect the environment”—came to life on the trip, as they discussed and found examples of plants and animals in food webs during the redwood forest hike and tide/marsh exploration. Students also participated in goat milking, cheese making, and an organic farm tour and tasting.
On top of all of that, students developed life skills in cooking and cleaning together, learning to take responsibility, manage their time, and cooperate with each other. They learned to build relationships, communicate, and collaborate; and they improved their self-esteem through some of the activities, as they tried new things and tackled challenges involving determination and persistence.
“Upon returning from Vida Verde, there was instantly a positive culture of a learning community. At the end of the school year, my class celebrated their accomplishments and cried because they would miss each other,” said Elia.
Kristen noted, “It was a transformational trip that they will absolutely never forget.”