Published on June 1, 2018

Valley Climate Education Program Reaching More Students Each Year

Arcadia educator teaching climate change program to HS students © Phil Doyle
© Phil Doyle

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary expanded their climate change education program this year, reaching approximately 1,000 students.

They continued their climate education program at Hampshire Regional Middle and High School and Northampton High School, for the third and second years respectively.

New this year, the Life in a Changing Climate program expanded to work with Hilltown Cooperative Charter School in Easthampton and Suffield High School in Suffield, CT. They will be wrapping up the year with classes for Up Academy Kennedy in Springfield the week of June 4 and Peck Middle School in Holyoke will be visiting Arcadia the week of June 11.

Northampton HS students on field trip
Northampton HS student on a field trip

“This innovate program helps students understand what is happening with the climate, why it is happening, and what they can do to make a difference,” said Arcadia Sanctuary Director Jonah Keane.

Middle and high school students participated in a range of lessons focused on the science, data, impacts, and solutions of climate change. Students became carbon molecules in the carbon cycle, played photons in the greenhouse effect, and explored real long-term data on changing bird populations in Massachusetts.

They also learned about potential impacts to our area and specific habitats, calculated the carbon sequestration potential of Arcadia’s forests, determined the resilience of their school’s forest, discovered their own ecological footprint, saw many nature-based solutions in action, created bumper stickers, and started thinking about big climate solutions.

“Introducing students to climate change science is an important first step that boosts their knowledge, confidence, and desire to take on this global issue,” said Brittany Gutermuth, Arcadia’s Climate Change Education Coordinator.

The Life in a Changing Climate classes are designed as an introduction to the science of climate change, an invitation to learn more, and an inspiration to take action. The program includes a mix of in-class time, schoolyard time, and Arcadia field trips.

Additionally, in November, select students from Northampton, Hampshire Regional, Holyoke and Amherst came together for the first Western Mass Youth Climate Summit co-presented by Arcadia and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

A second summit will happen this November with more schools participating.

The Northampton program is supported by the Northampton Education Foundation. The Hampshire Regional program is supported in part by a grant from local cultural councils in Chesterfield, Goshen, Southampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg, and Worthington, local agencies which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Additional programs are supported by donations to the Arcadia Education Fund.