Impact of Education & Community Outreach
Support Education & Outreach
Mass Audubon is one of the largest statewide providers of environmental education programming for youth, families, and adults. Our statewide network of wildlife sanctuaries, nature centers, and museums serve as the base for our work in education and community outreach. Our education programs take place at our sites as well as in communities across the Commonwealth in partnership with schools, classrooms, and community-based organizations.
Almost half a million visitors of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds visit our sanctuaries each year, and 235,000 youth, families, and adults attend educational programs, camps, and events at our sanctuaries, in schools, and in their communities. Our suite of education and community outreach programs position Mass Audubon as a leader and catalyst for conservation by inspiring and stimulating individual and institutional action.
Accomplishments in FY 2016 include, but are not limited to:
- More than 460,000 children, families, and adults visited our wildlife sanctuaries across Massachusetts to enjoy, explore, and learn about the nature of Massachusetts. An additional 121,000 children, families, and adults attended a program at one of our sanctuaries to learn more about plants, wildlife, and the habitats of Massachusetts.
- We provided PreK-12 school programs to over 118,000 individual students from across the state for a total of totaling 211,000 attendances, or individual programs. Of these programs, more than 25% of the participants spent more than 3 hours learning in a small group with one of our teacher naturalists in the outdoors. These programs provide engaging science-based STEM learning experiences at our sanctuaries and at schools across the state. Utilizing school-based programming to provide access and nature-based learning experiences for all children, these programs reached students in 60% of Massachusetts cities and towns.
- To increase our impact, many of our nature centers that offer programs for school children also offer professional development opportunities for classroom teachers and science coordinators. In FY 2016, we offered 150 different workshops, professional development institutes, and courses for 1,387 teachers for over 6,000 cumulative contact hours. The more teachers we reach with innovative ways to increase nature as a context for learning, the more students we reach as well!
Summer Camps and Vacation Weeks
- Last year, our summer camp programs reached nearly 10,000 youth! Of those, 9,330 attended our summer day camps across the state and 554 attended Wildwood, our nature-based overnight camp. Among these participants, 21% came to our programs from underserved communities. (Underserved participants reside in municipalities that reflect socioeconomic criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Education.)
- When surveying camp families, parents share that they choose Mass Audubon Camps because of our focus on outdoor play and exploration, learning about the natural world, our beautiful sanctuaries that host camp programs, and our high-quality staff. about their experience, 97% of parents agree or somewhat agree that they were VERY satisfied with their camp experience; 76% percent agreed that their child is more satisfied with spending time outdoors; 85% percent reported that their child is more interested in sharing or learning about plant and animals; and 66% reported that their children are more interested in taking action at home to help the environment.
- In addition to working with over 200 children and their families in our nature preschools, our sanctuaries across the state provide programming to hundreds of early childhood education centers through nature-based lessons to children and professional development to early childhood educators.
In 2016, we continued to realize achievements in ensuring that nature is accessible to all.
- We continued to develop new universally accessible interpretive trails. We are now planning trails number 13 and 14.
- Perhaps, more importantly, we continue to share what we have learned with other professionals in recreation, environmental education, and landscape design. In wrapping up the two-year IMLS-funded Accessible Trails Guidelines Project, we presented at a total of 10 conferences, reaching over 300 practitioners, published feature articles in 10 professional publications and media outlets, and completed the Accessible Trails Guidelines Manual and Video which are now available online for free and have been downloaded by hundreds of interested colleagues and organizations around the country.
- In 2016, with the help of accessibility consultants from Perkins School and the New England ADA Center, we conducted our second statewide Accessibility Training Day, attended by 56 staff and volunteers, representing every Mass Audubon field site, department, and the Board of Directors.
- In 2016, we were also designated as an UP Organization by the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The goal of UP is to support the growth and development of organizations that recognize the power of inclusive design to grow audiences and enhance cultural experiences for everyone and that embrace inclusivity as core to their mission and organization.
Mass Audubon provides rich opportunities for students to gain experiences in nature and the environment. Our regular visits from your teacher naturalists, combined with hands-on experiences allowed students to participate in authentic STEM project-based learning. – Carolyn Rocheleau, Coordinator of Special Programs, Lowell Public Schools.