Riverschools Project Wins State Environmental ‘Award For Excellence’
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN—The Riverschools Project, a collaboration among Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, Ephraim Curtis Middle School in Sudbury, and Happy Hollow Elementary School in Wayland, has been honored with a 2019 Secretary’s Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award.
The awards, which recognize schools and teachers from throughout Massachusetts for their efforts to improve energy and environmental education, are presented annually by the Office of the Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary. The program is marking its 25th year.
Working in partnership with the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Wild & Scenic River Stewardship Council, the Riverschools Project strengthens awareness and appreciation of river resources among youth who reside within the watershed of the Sudbury, Assabet and Concord, which comprise a federally designated Wild & Scenic river.
An awards presentation ceremony, hosted by new EOEEA Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, took place Monday, May 6, in the Hall of Flags at the Massachusetts State House in Boston. Those in attendance included honorees and colleagues from the participating schools, the River Stewardship Council, and Mass Audubon, the state’s largest nature conservation nonprofit.
In lauding all the awardees, Secretary Theoharides said, “In order to teach the next generation the importance of protecting our natural resources, we need to get children outdoors and engaging with nature. The programs recognized today connect local environmental issues with STEM subjects, preparing students to both think critically and advocate for our environment.”
Through Riverschools, teacher-naturalists at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary partner with classroom teachers to introduce elementary and middle school students to the three rivers, their ecosystems, and the effect of climate change on the watershed and the community. They then work together to create community-based solutions to fight climate change and adapt to the changes it will bring
A comprehensive curriculum has been developed that includes classroom visits, hands-on field study at river sites, and reflective exercises which help to build appreciation and inspire action to protect our rivers.
Mass Audubon President Gary Clayton thanked outgoing Secretary Matthew Beaton and his staff for understanding the value of Riverschools and for honoring the project with an Award for Excellence.
“Spending time streamside offers students some of the best opportunities they’ll ever have to forge connections with nature, and Riverschools encourages them to understand the crucial stewardship roles they can play in protecting these valuable habitats,” Clayton said.
“Our collaboration with the River Stewardship Council, and especially with the students and educators of the participating school systems, is a great example of how innovative partnerships—in the classroom and out of doors— can advance the cause of conservation,” he noted, “especially as we address the challenges of a changing climate.”
Mass Audubon protects 36,500 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts’ largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state’s natural treasures for wildlife and for all people—a vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women. Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 125,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today’s and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at massaudubon.org.