Suquamish Basket Marsh: Creating a Living Library

Suquamish Basket Marsh: Creating a Living Library

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

cattailwritingCROPThe Suquamish Basket Marsh: Creating a Living Library


An Outdoor Environmental Learning Classroom for the students of Suquamish Elementary School

By Melinda West

There is a Salish legend passed down by the First Peoples of the Pacific Northwest that explains the origin of the cedar tree and why it has been referred to as: “Long-Life Maker”.  For over four-thousand years this slow-growing, shade-and- water-loving evergreen has resided amongst the fir, yew and hemlock trees, in forests along the edges of Puget Sound. The legend explains that the cedar trees were once generous people who looked to the welfare of others in their community and responded to their needs.  I’d like to tell you a story that makes me believe the spirit of this legend is alive and flourishing today.

My relationship with Suquamish Elementary school was rekindled in the spring of 2000.  This was the public school my own two, now adult sons had attended.  For over a decade, I had spent many hours volunteering in each of their classrooms.  On this occasion I was invited as a consultant because of my work as a natural fiber weaving specialist.  This visit was to hear about an innovative idea for a project that would combine science, social studies and art education.  The proposed project would involve converting a barren, fenced-off drainage catchment area on school grounds into a pond and native plant garden.

Pulling into the auxiliary parking lot, I glanced straight ahead at this desolate space, off limits to students, yet taking away up to one third of the play area.  These depressions in the landscape surrounded by locked chain-link fences are commonly seen throughout the Kitsap Peninsula, in Washington State, where I’ve resided for over a quarter century.  They are required for surface water purification.  I tend to look away from these sites and search for alternative focuses which hold some beauty — the chirping sounds of children at play, verdant leaves unfurling, even the bright yellow of dandelion weeds.

Six years later, as I drive into that same parking lot at Suquamish Elementary, my eyes are drawn to cattail leaves dancing over a shimmering pond.  I see delicate, green stalks of the Northwest sweetgrass sedge growing in the bog.  Both plants have been used for centuries as weaving materials by the First People of this place.  There is a boardwalk and gravel trail that follows the perimeter of the pond.  A rain shelter built of yellow cedar is reminiscent of the long houses that once stood nearby.  A small cedar tool shed, and wooden benches are nestled in between adolescent hazelnut, vine maple, and western red cedar trees.  Shrubs, ferns and ground covers mingle below the wild roses, red currants, and willows.

There is a class of third graders using this space when I arrive.  Little faces peak out from behind a bird blind woven with grapevines from a local vineyard. Other students are sitting on boulders perched near the pond, glacial remnants generously donated by a local landscape company.  At this moment the students are quietly engaged, making observations and entries in their pond journals.  They are smelling and touching plants, writing, measuring, and sketching.  In a little while, I will be accompanying a class of fourth graders the fifty odd yards away from the building, through the woven arbor gate and under the twig sign that says: “Welcome”.

“In traditional Native American cultures, art was not a separate pursuit.  Beauty and utility came together in objects of everyday use to reflect a way of life and an aesthetic that respected the relationship people had with their environment.”…Shaun Peterson, Salish Artist, 2004 SAM exhibit” Song, Story, Speech”.

 

As a plant fiber artist, teachers invite me to present ethnobotanical knowledge about Pacific Northwest plants to their students.  This provides content for social studies and science requirements, while the techniques for using the plant fibers provide physical activity, math and art skills.  The Basket Marsh and outdoor classrooms of its kind are living libraries and laboratories.  They contain unlimited resources for teaching every subject students need to learn.

What I have to offer as a teaching artist is most effective in an environment where students can see, touch, smell, hear, and sometimes even taste, the subject-matter.  Again and again, I have witnessed that this first-hand experiential learning of natural science and culture gives lasting memory and meaning to students.  The virtues of the western red cedar can easily be appreciated by children, when they are given pieces of the leather-like inner bark to experiment with as they sit next to young growing cedar trees.  Non-conventional learning environments like the Suquamish Basket Marsh give opportunities for students and classroom teachers to meet and interact directly with artists and other specialists from the community.

Today I will model my craft, and students will get to experience weaving with cattails that they have helped to grow and harvest from their Basket Marsh.  We will share stories, sing a weaving song, and then weave a mat or make some rope in order to experience first hand the ingenious ways that cattails and other native plants have been used by the First People of this place.

 

Connecting the Project to the Place

Suquamish1Every part of this country is sacred to my people.  Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or sad experience of my tribe.”…..Chief Seattle, speech at the Pt. Elliot Treaty signing, paraphrased by Dr Henry Smith, 1854.

Twelve thousand years ago, a thick layer of ice covered the Pacific Northwest.  As the ice melted, glaciers formed and slowly carved out deep channels that the water filled.  Forests grew, and the land that was left became covered with plants.  In some origin stories, native North American storytellers have told that the First People were once plants and animals who later took human form.  Those people began to live in villages along the shorelines, and since then their descendants have been living here too.  Long before contact with explorers, trappers, and settlers, the place near the present day town of Suquamish was highly populated.  Everything needed to sustain a rich community and cultural life was present in the forests, meadows, rivers, at the water’s edge, and in the sea.

“Children learned from an early age not to pluck too much or ruthlessly destroy the valuables of the earth.  They learned responsible, caring behavior both through stories, metaphors and focused instruction at opportune moments and through observation, emulation and experience.”…Nancy Turner, from THE EARTH’S BLANKET, 2005.

 

Prehistoric survival was dependant upon the knowledge of place accumulated over time: geography, seasons, cycles, weather patterns, plants, and animals.  In recent times, this knowledge, reflected in the First Peoples’ relationship with the flora and fauna, is being referred to as Sacred Ecology or Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  This body of information has been passed down through the oral tradition from one generation to the next, through stories, songs, ceremonies, and through the practice of traditional technologies, skills, and arts derived from the environment.

In Lushootseed, a language spoken by many of the First People of the Puget Sound area, the word for Suquamish is d’suq’wub which means “place of clear salt water”.  The city of Seattle was named in honor of Chief Seattle, the Duwamish and Suquamish leader, who in the mid 1800’s protected his community from the raiding parties of other tribes. Later, in hopes of further protecting his people from the influx of settlers and a new government hungry for land and resources, he signed a treaty with the United States government which resulted in the city of Seattle being built upon traditional Duwamish Tribal land.  Chief Seattle’s burial site is only a few blocks away from Suquamish Elementary school.  Every August, the Suquamish Tribe sponsors a huge gathering of Intertribal-Nation festivities and canoe races known as Chief Seattle Days, honoring this important leader.

Nearly one quarter of the students at Suquamish Elementary school, are descendants of First Peoples indigenous to North America.  After many years of misunderstanding by impinging dominant cultures, the perspectives and approaches to education espoused by some of the traditional First Peoples’ teachings are starting to be better understood and valued.  The holistic ways of thinking about the Earth, organizing information, and connecting knowledge to daily life are as important today as ever.

“In our culture all things are living….everything has life.”…Dr. Martina Whelshula, Colville Tribes, Benchmarks Panel, WAEYC Conference, 10-27-06.

Traditional teachings are imbued with lessons for sustainable living and are intrinsically linked to place.  Relationships — with people, plants, animals, and all the elements, are emphatically important. Now the Suquamish Basket Marsh is providing opportunities everyday for these types of lessons to touch children of all cultural backgrounds within the school and community.  The Lushooteed name for this outdoor classroom is:  gelk’ali. It means “place of weaving”.

Weaving has always been part of the community in the First People’s traditional culture here in this place.  Now it is part of the healing for our people.  We are stitching and mending the culture back together.”….Darlene Peters,PHD, counselor, teacher, Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam, gelk’ali dedication speech, May 2002.

 

Planting the Seed

The idea for the gelk’ali came from Ron Hirschi, a fisheries biologist who worked for many years with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.  He is author of over fifty books for children, many that combine real life pictures of animals with accurate scientific information.  While appearing as a guest for the school’s May 2000 Young Authors Day, Mr. Hirschi shared with students, projects from other schools including the restoration of a wetland at Pickerington Elementary in Ohio.  He suggested creating a pond out of the storm water retention area at Suquamish Elementary.  His idea was that by planting it with native plants traditionally used by the local First People, especially plants used for traditional basket weaving, there would be an opportunity for tribal families to become more involved at the school. Tribal members living in the community could be invited into classrooms to share cultural experiences and knowledge with all the students.  Mr. Hirschi also shared how students, at nearby Seabeck Elementary, formed an after school group called the “Salmon Team”.  He helped this team partner with parents, the S’Klallam Tribe, and Trust for Public Lands, to acquire an entire estuary after research by the Salmon Team showed the presence of endangered salmon in its waters.

 

Recognizing a Problem

“As teachers we should be striving to give kids moments of greatness.  How can we help students have these moments?”…Jan Jackson, personal interview, 9-13-06

After 18 years of teaching, Jan Jackson, a librarian at Suquamish Elementary school, was considering retirement.  She felt she was losing an important connection with her students.  Like many classroom teachers today, Ms. Jackson recognized the challenge of engaging students with a broad spectrum of learning styles from various cultural and economic backgrounds.  She noticed that many students were spending more and more time in front of video and television screens.  She also saw the pressures put upon teachers to spend more time teaching to a system of standardized tests, leaving less time to develop relationships with students for building life and learning skills.  At the same time, children were having fewer opportunities to be outside, fewer chances to be observing nature, less time to be exploring and responding to the natural environment through the arts and sciences.

Suquamish2“Direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development – physical, emotional, and spiritual….it is a potent therapy for depression, obesity, and ADD…it improves standardized test scores…it develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking, decision making…and creativity”… Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods, 2005.

When a need is recognized and a community cares, a good idea can be set into motion as long as there is someone like Ms. Jackson to see it through.  She first approached Principal Joe Davalos with the concept of the outdoor classroom.  “It helps to have a principal that lets people follow their heart,” she says of Davalos.  Other teachers became interested, and a committee was formed which met through the summer to plan a Basket Marsh curriculum.  Relating the curriculum to career education helped the school apply for funds from their school district’s vocational department to get them started.

 

Gathering a Team

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, anthropologist 1901-1978

With the principal, teachers, students, parents, and the Suquamish Tribe on board, it was time to see if there was community support for the Basket Marsh.  For the next two years Ms. Jackson spent many hours in outreach, bringing students with her to attend school board and other community meetings. Individuals, families, corporate and business sponsors, all stepped forward to provide funds, services, equipment, materials, and the invaluable hours of labor and expertise required.  Approval from the school board, consulting with the water district, permits from the county, all needed to be researched and secured.

The Suquamish Tribe partnered with the school, providing ongoing funding for programs and projects at the gelk’ali.  They helped develop the plan for the marsh, provided soil testing, water flow analysis, ground surveys, plant recommendations, and consultations by hydrology and fisheries professionals. The county departments of Waste Water Management and Solid Waste, as well as the local public utility district’s Education Department, have given continual support.

Institutions of higher learning have been important resources for the gelk’ali.  Each year, many students from Suquamish Elementary spend four days at IslandWood’s School Overnight Program, receiving an intensive environmental education experience.  An ongoing partnership has formed with this nationally acclaimed environmental learning center, and inspiration for many of the class service projects have come from this relationship.  Members of IslandWood’s staff and some of their graduate students have helped with improvements at the gelk’ali, and have been involved in follow-up teaching.  The National Wildlife Foundation and Cornell University’s department of Ornithology’s “Classroom Feeder Watch Program” have also enhanced environmental education and science curriculum.

As director of the pond project, Ms. Jackson credits the whole community with building the gelk’ali. Students, teachers and staff, PTA, school district personnel, county employees, the Suquamish Tribe, biologists, carpenters, scientists, authors, specialists, garden clubs, the local Rotary, civil engineers, architects, landscapers, artists, area businesses, parents and volunteers — all saw the need and understood the benefits.

 

Involving the Students

“I want kids to get their hands dirty, and not be afraid to make a mess.” …Jan Jackson 9-15-06

Known as the “Pond kids”, these 4th-6th graders fill out applications at the beginning of each year in hopes of gaining a position on the Student Advisory Board.  This extracurricular group of 25-30 students meets weekly with Ms. Jackson and the volunteer docents.  The Pond Kids have been involved in all aspects of the development of the gelk’ali, from research, to fund-raising, to planning and coordinating Earth Day assemblies.  Early on, the students helped design and plan the pond.  After meeting with a parent who showed them how to take topographical measurements of the site, they built a 3-dimensional scale model to help with their presentations to the School Board, sponsors, and to other community groups. They cleared out the blackberries and Scotch broom, and helped rake, dig and plant.   Now the Pond Kids continue the ongoing physical labor at the gelk’ali, restoring habitat and maintaining the plants.

“Before the pond was built the grass was brown and now it’s green.  I enjoy knowing I’m making a difference in the school.” …Winona, 5th grader, 2002

 

All the students at Suquamish Elementary utilize the gelk’ali for learning.  Each student has a pond journal they use for documenting their observations at the gelk’ali throughout the year.  Along with each class, every year a new group of Pond Kids implement one or more service projects that connect the gelk’ali with the whole school.  One project inspired after a visit to IslandWood has been recycling lunchroom waste. The Pond Kids researched vermaculture, and agreed upon the size needed for the worm boxes based upon their measurements of daily school lunch food waste. The boxes were built by a parent volunteer. The students made instructional posters, gave presentations to classes, and volunteered to stay in from recess to help collect the food waste.  Now the school saves district money since there is less trash.  At the same time, the worms decompose all that food waste into useful compost for the plants at the gelk’ali.

As well as learning important aspects of being responsible stewards of the land, the Pond Kids are encouraged to be active citizens and communicators. They have written letters to sponsors, articles for school newsletters, and corresponded with foundations and public officials. In the course of these activities they have won local, regional and national recognition for their environmental leadership.  Each week the Pond Kids report back to their classrooms what they are leaning at the gelk’ali.  To help build relationships between grade levels they also report weekly to their “buddy classrooms” in the primary grades.  Each year all the students at Suquamish Elementary are learning about environmental stewardship first hand.

“The marsh is like a puzzle that fits into the big picture.  The plants protect the pond from harm.  The trees grow, give shade, and hold together the pond with their strong immense roots.  The dirt absorbs nutrients and, sometimes, the pollution.  The animals in the pond make it a happier place for us.” …Tyler, 4th grader, 2002

 

 

Imagining the Future

 

Teachings of the Tree People: The Work of Bruce Miller from NWIN on Vimeo.

“An intimate participation leaves a memory as long as you are on the earth.”…Bruce Miller, the late Skokomish Spiritual Leader and Cultural Teacher, from Teachings of the Tree People, 2005 video produced by Katie Jennings and IslandWood

 

How can teachers find the support they need to step outside of the metaphoric boundaries of classrooms today?  In conjunction with standardized learning and testing, is it within the realm of possibility that community-born projects for learning could be used by more teachers and children, on a daily basis?

Imagine every elementary school in the United States being able to tell a story like this.  Not identical, of course, but a story of how their schools, students, parents, and communities could find authentic ways to meet the educational needs of their children.  The native plant garden and outdoor classroom is just one possibility for providing an atmosphere for student-driven, inquiry-based learning.  At the gelk’ali, as teachers become more comfortable embracing this resource, the natural history of Suquamish can come to life for their students.  Differing cultural perspectives can be explored giving all students the opportunity to examine their own cultural roots and traditions.  The scientific and artist processes can be taught –honing observation skills, exploring and asking questions, experimenting, designing solutions, researching, making measurements, learning techniques and skills, documenting results, reflecting upon them, and finding new questions!

Throughout the development of the gelk’ali, the school, tribe, and community have proven to be devoted advocates for promoting diverse cultural perspectives and approaches to education. They have diligently created a place of learning that enhances the educational opportunities for students with various learning strengths, and engages them through methods that mainstream classrooms cannot offer.

“Working with the Suquamish Tribe…planting the grasses the indigenous peoples worked with for their basket making, takes teaching to the highest level:  Every time we educate our children on the rich diversity that exists in this country, we educate ourselves.” …Jay Inslee, US House of Representatives, Washington State Congressional District # 1, Letter for the Dedication of the Galk’ali 4-02

 

Outdoor classrooms, such as the Suquamish Basket Marsh, broaden educational opportunities for a diverse group of students. They give non-conventional teaching specialists the opportunity to use their respective art forms as vehicles for teaching science, math, social studies, language, history, and the arts.  Concepts difficult to learn from books alone or while sitting inside at desks, become illuminated, when students are given opportunities to relate them to natural living systems on a daily basis.

Many caring individuals have built this special place of learning.  Around the pond, the cedar trees are growing taller.  As in the ancient legend of the cedar tree, each sword fern, camas bulb, huckleberry and Oregon grape plant – reflect a piece of a story of someone’s generosity.  When people care about their children’s education, even a small puddle on the school grounds can become a lesson about the transformative power of a community working together.

 

Additional Information:

History/Stages of Pond Development

Stage I – 2000 – Planning

Stage II – 2001 – Construction

Stage III – 2002 – Maintenance, Improvements, Service Projects

Stage IV – 2003 to Present – Maintenance, Ongoing Service Projects

Partnerships

Suquamish PTA

Suquamish Garden Club

Kitsap County Solid Waste Department

Kitsap County Storm Water Management Department

Public Utilities Education Department

IslandWood

Cornell University

National Wildlife Federation

Awards

President’s Environmental Youth Award, 2003

Kitsap County Commissioners’ Earth Day Award, 2002, 2006

Grand Prize, Ivy Sculpture Contest, Bainbridge Gardens, 2004

Grants

Suquamish Tribe Appendix X, 2000-present

Lowe’s Toolbox For Education Grant, 2006

Gifts from many assorted local business and individuals

 

Artists

Traditional Native American Tribal Weavers

Botanical Illustrator

Natural Fiber Weaver

Cedar Weaver

Cartoonist

Soft-metal sculpturist

Book illustrator

Visual artist

Authors

Ceramic artist

Mosaic artist

 

List of Service Projects by Classes and Pond Kids

Science Fair Projects

Water testing

Building a copper water gauge for measuring water level at pond related to rainfall

Stepping Stones

Weaving a branch and vine bird blind

Earth Day Celebration assemblies

Native plant tiles with imprint and scientific, common and Lushootseed names

Native plant studies, drawings over the seasons

Cattail weaving projects

Ivy animal sculptures

Classroom Bird Feeder Watch, Cornell University

Participate in making film, Teachings of the Tree People, sponsored by IslandWood

Recycled material baskets

Contribute drawings for IslandWood field Guide:  ALL MY RELATIONS.

Cedar gathering bark with Suquamish Tribal Elder

Cedar basket weaving

Cordage making

Dream catchers

Mason Bee house

Bird feeders and houses

Bat houses

Programs with Tribal Elders

Worm bins

Field testing a weaving project for a book by Bruce Miller and Nan McNutt

Participation in a Nature Conservancy Education Video

Bird Observation Garden

For More Information Contact:

 

Ron Hirschi www.ronhirschi.com

Watch for the new book: We all Live Downstream. These are the words of Holly Cocoili, Environmental Biologist for the S’Klallam Tribe.  Her words and the concept inspired a new book by that title written by Ron Hirschi, and including the Suquamish Basket Marsh, Pickerington Pond in Ohio, and Seabeck Salmon Team projects on Hood Canal, WA.

Suquamish Environmental Education Boosters, (501(c)(3) www.seeboosters.org

Jan Jackson, librarian, Gelk’ali Director           :                       jjackson@nksd.wednet.edu

Melinda West, fiber artist, article author                      :           melwest@centurytel.net

IslandWood Environmental Learning Center www.islandwood.org

Author’s Note:

Much of the credit for this article comes from the inspiration I’ve received from reading the works of Distinguished Professor Nancy J. Turner, author of the recent books:  THE EARTH’S BLANKET – TRADITIONAL TEACHINGS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVING, and KEEP IT LIVING – TRADITIONS OF PLANT USE AND CULTIVATION ON THE NORTHWEST COAST OF NORTH AMERICA; along with Richard Louv’s book:  THE LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS – SAVING OUR CHILDREN FROM NATURE-DEFICIT DISORDER.

Author’s Bio:

Melinda West, of Indianola Washington has been practicing the art of natural fiber weaving since 1985.  She has studied with many native and non-native weavers and artists, the foremost being Ed Carriere of the Suquamish Tribe. Melinda enjoys sharing her love of natural history, environmental stewardship, and indigenous cultures through the teachings and the practices of traditional fiber arts.

Coastal Margin Science and Education

Coastal Margin Science and Education

CMOP: The Best Environmental Education Program You’ve (Probably) Never Heard About

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Coastal Margin Science and Education in the Era of Collaboratories

by Vanessa L. Green, Nievita Bueno Watts, Karen Wegner, Michael Thompson, Amy F. Johnson, Tawnya D. Peterson and António M. Baptista

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I-bluenterdisciplinary science is needed to make big decisions when it comes to complex and fragile ecological environments such as the Columbia River estuary. Effective communication of that science is necessary to engage students and to work across scientists, educators. policy-makers and the general community. For these reasons, the Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) has developed a “coastal margin collaboratory,” which brings together sensor networks, computer models, cyber-infrastructure, people and institutions to better understand the Columbia River coastal margin ecosystem as a whole (Baptista et al. 2008).

CMOP scientists study the Columbia River and transform the openly shared data and tools into a better understanding of current conditions and into the anticipation of future trends from increasing climate and anthropogenic pressures. Many types of users access CMOP data for their own needs and/or collaborate with CMOP on joint scientific and educational efforts. Through the collaboratory, CMOP enables a common understanding among interested groups such as natural resource managers for local, state, federal and tribal agencies, enabling effective discussions and long-range planning.

WHAT ARE COASTAL MARGINS?

noaa_animation_800x390_screenshot02Coastal margins, broadly defined as the interface between land and ocean, contain important and highly productive ecosystems. They often mitigate the negative impacts of human activities from local to global scales, for example ‘filtering out’ excess nutrients that enter watersheds from fertilizer applications. Coastal margin environments are naturally variable because of tides, seasons and year-to- year differences in the forcing from rivers, oceans, and the atmosphere. Ecosystems adapt to that natural variability, but are often less well equipped to adjust to major shifts caused by population growth, economic development and global climate change. CMOP seeks to understand how biological and chemical components of the Columbia River interface with and are affected by physical processes, with the ultimate goal of predicting how they might respond to climate change and increased regional development.

A recent study (Frontier Economics Limited 2012) estimates that the world’s ten most populated river basins account today for l0% of the global gross domestic product, and that by 2050 that share will grow Io 25%, which will be more than the combined gross domestic product of the United States, Germany and Japan. This type of growth could be ecologically devastating, locally and globally, should it not be managed in a perspective of long-term sustainability and with the support of sound science. The datasets and predictions provided by the CMOP collaboratory can serve as useful examples that can be “exported” to other similar river and estuary systems worldwide.

THE COLUMBIA RIVER-TO-OCEAN ECOSYSTEM

virtualcrThe Columbia River watershed extends across seven states in the United States and two provinces in Canada, and contributes about 70% of the freshwater input to the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Juan de Fuca (Barnes et al. 1972). Big decisions are needed to determine policy about the hydroelectric dams, protection and regulation of the migratory salmon, and changes in water quality such as ocean-driven estuarine hypoxia and acidification. All of this is set in the context of continued population growth, economic development and climatic change-and amidst a complex regulatory environment that includes the Endangered Species Act, a federal treaty between the U.S government and Native American tribes, and a soon-to-be renegotiated treaty between the U.S. and Canada.

CMOP science has already led to the identification of previously unrecognized environmental issues, from a benign but ecologically relevant seasonal red water bloom in the Columbia River estuary (Hertfort et aI. 2012) to the development of seasonal and severe ocean-driven estuarine hypoxia (Roegner et al. 2011) and potential acidification- and is showing how those apparently distinct processes are tied together. CMOP science is also contributing to an understanding of anthropogenic and climatic changes to estuarine and ocean processes, which affect salmon habitat and life cycle.

THE CMOP EDUCATIONAL PATHWAY

Progress towards our scientific goals has opened exciting opportunities to entrain a new and diverse workforce in coastal margin science. CMOP offers an educational pathway that includes a broad range of age-appropriate activities for students and teachers. Our pathway includes short courses; camps; sustained professional development programs for teachers; curricula for high school classes; individualized research experiences through high school, undergraduate and teacher internships; interdisciplinary graduate curricula through Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and affiliated degree programs at partner universities; and lifelong opportunities for scientists and natural resources professionals to incorporate outcomes of CMOP science in their activities and decision-making processes (Figure 2).

OCAMPteachers

From left, Sam Case third-grade teacher Fanny Drews, Newport Intermediate fifth-grade teacher Christie Walker, Taft Elementary fifth-grade teacher Valerie Baker and sixth-grade teachers Beth Parsons and Kara Allen identify microbes that live on marine debris. Photo courtesy of NewsGuard of Lincoln County, Oregon.

Teachers and informal educators engage with CMOP in a variety of ways. Teachers access data through user-friendly modules that can be used to plot time series and explore correlations between estuary variables. As an example, teachers could design an experiment that demonstrates how red water blooms influence dissolved oxygen levels, using CMOP’s models to explore various scenarios. CMOP offers a regularly updated activity archive on the CMOP website (Science Activities and Curriculum URL). Lessons are designed for adaptability between age groups and data are appropriate for math, science, and social science classrooms. These lesson plans align with the essential principles of Ocean Literacy and the Next Generation Science Standards (Ocean Literacy Guide URL) and were generated through an interactive teacher professional development workshop. Teachers can engage in individualized internships of their own, conducting original research within CMOP teams and incorporating their experiences into their classroom curricula.

A three-year collaboration of the Oregon Coast Aquatic and Marine Partnership (OCAMP) consisting of CMOP, the Lincoln County School District, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife/Oregon Hatchery Research Center, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and the Bureau of Land Management’s Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area aimed to provide teachers with the tools needed to carry out meaningful field experiences and inquiry driven learning while improving ocean literacy during sustained, year-round professional development colloquia as well as summer workshops. A follow-up program, entitled the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Center, extended OCAMP’s partnership to include Tillamook School District, Western Oregon University, and a variety of local businesses and agencies, and seeks to support teachers in their use of problem-based learning to improve student outcomes in STEM disciplines through engagement and the incorporation of 2lst century skills. The latter program is being carried out in a blended model of professional development, with in-person and web-based activities. CMOP can also engage with an entire school community through the CMOP- School Collaboratories (CSC) program. Cohorts of teachers from CSC partner schools can engage with CMOP to develop an integrated curriculum that emphasizes an inter-connected environment (Hugo et al. 2013).

THE VALUE OF A SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER

CMOP remote sensorsThe structure of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center program (NSF STC) has greatly enabled the development of this educational pathway through the decade-long investment in exploratory yet rigorous, potentially transformative science. lt is this structure that allows CMOP to expose students to a multi-disciplinary approach, engaging scientists from a broad range of relevant fields and from several collaborating universities, as well as practitioners from many state, federal and tribal agencies and from industry. The longevity of the STC investment has also contributed to our ability to effectively engage in sustained efforts to broaden participation among Native American, Alaska Native (Bueno Watts and Smythe 2015) and other groups underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines.

The synergy among anchoring academic partners (OHSU, Oregon State University and University of Washington, in the case of CMOP) is critically important to the success of a STC. Also critical is the engagement of regional stakeholders, which offer a natural, realistic, enriching and often pressing context for our science and education programs. For instance, Native American tribes of the Columbia River have historically been active and effective stewards of the land, water and natural resources in the basin. The Columbia River lnter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) has partnered with CMOP to identify potential threats to salmon and lamprey through investigation of factors that influence habitat quality. This collaboration has effectively engaged several Native American students in the CMOP education pathway and has also educated non-Native students on tribal cultures and natural resource management strategies.
DEVELOPING THE COASTAL MARGIN WORKFORCE

student-datareviewCMOP students are engaged at all levels of the collaboratory. They participate in the development of sensors and models, and take active part in oceanographic cruises that might range from research to mariner-training vessels, autonomous underwater vehicles (Figure 3) and even kayaks (Rathmell et al. 2013). CMOP students, from high school to graduate, conduct research projects that relate to important biological hotspots, attempting holistic descriptions of their underlying physics and biogeochemistry that cover gene-to-climate scales. Students learn, shoulder-to-shoulder with researchers and practitioners, how to characterize, predict and inter-relate processes driving estuarine hypoxia and acidification. plankton blooms, and the biogeochemistry of lateral bays and of estuarine turbidity maxima (ETM)-turbid water regions located at the heads of coastal plain estuaries near the freshwater/saltwater interface. CMOP students also gain an understanding of broad topics that provide context to CMOP research science initiatives, such as global nutrient cycles, climate change, managing natural resources, mitigating natural hazards, and protecting fragile ecosystems.

Within the curriculum or with their mentor teams, students conduct fieldwork in the Columbia River estuary and in the coastal waters of Oregon and Washington using a variety of approaches, ranging from simple cmop2river-front water sampling from a dock to participation in major research campaigns aboard University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) vessels. Students gain hands-on experience within laboratories, using state-of-the-art equipment such as imaging flow cytometers (FlowCAM), an Environmental Sample Processor (ESP), a Conductivity, Temperature, and Depth Sensor (CTD), or a Scanning Electron Microscope. Students also gain exposure to the “Virtual Columbia River,” a data-rich simulation environment that offers multiple representations of circulation and ecological processes, including their variability and change across river-to-shelf scales (Virtual Columbia River URL). The models that form the Virtual Columbia River simulate estuarine conditions, enabling predictions of changing physical properties (tides, currents, salinity and temperature) and biogeochemical cycles (e.g., nitrogen and carbon) important to ecosystem management. Comparisons between field observations and model simulations allow for continued learning and refinement of the process.

INCORPORATING CMOP SCIENCE INTO THE CLASSROOM

Ocean Literacy & OCAMPCurricula available on the CMOP website combine elements of coastal oceanography, environmental microbiology, biogeochemistry, computational sciences, and information technology. Student participants in K-12 activities have continued working with CMOP, ‘graduating” to more sophisticated, longer-term participation as undergraduate interns. Likewise, undergraduate interns have continued their research by matriculating into the CMOP-affiliated M.S./Ph.D. Environmental Science and Engineering degree program offered through the lnstitute of Environmental Health (IEH) at OHSU. IEH graduates have gone on to related careers in academia, private research, and with related federal and state agencies. To date, CMOP has served over 800 K-l2 students, over 70 teachers, over 100 undergraduate students, and has graduated 28 M.S. and Ph.D. students. CMOP students have graduated from the Environmental Science and Engineering Program at Oregon Health & Science University; the Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Program at Oregon State University; the Computer Science program at Portland State University; the Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences program at the University of Maryland; the Computer Science program at the University of Utah; the Physical Oceanography Program and the Biological Oceanography Program at the University of Washington. Students who have engaged in the CMOP Education “pathway” have become citizen scientists with a nuanced knowledge of coastal-margin science issues, and many have gained expertise and skills that have enabled them to contribute to a growing professional workforce in coastal margin science.

For middle- and high-school students, CMOP offers classes. day-camps and high-school internships in partnership with Saturday Academy, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing hands-on, in-depth learning and problem-solving activities. Past topics have included microbiology, marine biology, oceanography, and ocean technology. The curriculum is designed to enable students to easily identify the importance of coastal-margin related issues to their own academic interests and personal lives.

Undergraduate interns join CMOP mentor teams, which include a “Frontline Mentor” and a “senior Scientist.” The Frontline Mentor-typically a graduate student, staff member or post-doctoral fellow-establishes a project relevant to one or more CMOP research initiative. The Senior Scientist mentor provides guidance and ensures academic caliber. Over the course of the ten-week program, interns gain autonomy within their mentor teams as they gain contextual knowledge and skills. lnterns regularly interact with each other and with other CMOP participants through professional development seminars encompassing scientific themes, career opportunities and scientific ethics. lnterns visit sites along the river from Bonneville Dam to downtown Portland and to the mouth of the Columbia River estuary, to gain a first-hand understanding and appreciation of the complex interactions of biological, chemical, and physical processes. lnterns document their work through a daily lab notebook, a weekly blog (Undergraduate lnternships URL), a final presentation and a synthesizing paper. lntern research projects have been thoroughly incorporated into CMOP research; interns have co-authored CMOP publications in peer-reviewed journals (Publications URL) and have presented at national and international conferences (Presentations URL).

ASSESSING IMPACT

The CMOP Education program seeks to make full use of the resources available to this NSF STC to enable a wide range of teachers, students, and other users to learn more about and contribute to place-based knowledge of coastal margins. The University of Washington’s Office of Educational Assessment regularly evaluates the effectiveness of our program. Evaluations include surveys and focus groups with each participant cohort as well as follow-up surveys for longitudinal data. Data analyses demonstrate that high school and undergraduate participants in CMOP programs have increased interest in STEM education; increased confidence in their ability to engage in STEM research; enhanced relevant technical and professional skills, and, for undergraduate students, clarified research foci both within their degree programs and related to their decision of graduate programs. Eighty-seven percent of undergraduate survey respondents who obtained bachelor degrees went on to matriculate into STEM graduate programs, 4O% in fields related to their internships. All of these graduates agreed or strongly agreed that “Being part of the [CMOP] summer internship strengthened my application to this graduate degree program.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CMOP is primarily supported by the National Science Foundation, through cooperative agreement OCE-O4246O2. Crant CEO-I034611 extended our CSC program to Native Alaskans.

REFERENCES

Baptista, A., Howe, B., Freire, J., Maier, D., & Silva, C. T. (2008).

Scientific exploration in the era of ocean observatories. Computing in Science & Engineering, l0 (3),53-58.

Barnes, C. A., Duxbury, A. C., and Morse, B. (1972). Circulation and selected properties of the Columbia River effluent at sea. ln: The Columbio River Estuory and Adjocent Oceon Woters: Bioenvironmental Studies, edited by A.T. Pruter and D.L. Alverson. Seattle: University of Washington Press, pp. 71-80.

Bueno Watts, N. & Smythe, W F. (2013). It takes a community to raise a scientist:A case for community-inspired research and science education in an Alaska Native community. Current: The Journal of Morine Educotion 2B(3).

Frontier Economics Limited. (2012). Exploring the links between woter ond economic growth: A report prepared for HSBC. London, England: Frontier Economics Limited.

Herfort, 1., Peterson, T. D., Prahl, F. C., McCue, L. A., Needoba, J. A., Crump, B. C., Roegner, C. C., Campbell, V., & Zuber, P. QO12). Red waters of Myrionecto rubrq are biogeochemical hotspots for the Columbia River estuary with impacts on primary/secondary productions and nutrient cycles. Estuories ond Coqsts,35 (3), B7B-891.

Hugo, R., Smythe, W., McAllister, S., Young, B., Maring, B. & Baptista, A. (2013). Lessons learned from a K-’12 geoscience education program in an Alaska Native community. Journal of Sustainability Education,5 (SSN 2-51:7452).

Ocean Literacy Cuide URL http:,/www.coexploration.orgl ocean literacy/documents/Ocea n LitC u ide_LettersizeV2.pdf

Presentations URL http://www.stccmop.orglknowledge_transfer/presentations

Publications URL http://www.stccmop.orglpublications

Rathmell, K., Wilkin, M., Welle, P., Mattson, T., & Baptista, A. (2015). A very smart kayak. Current: The Journal of Marine Education QB)3.

Roegner, C. C., Needoba, J. A., & Baptista, A. (20I). Coastal upwelling supplies oxygen-depleted water to the Columbia River estuary. PLoS ONE, 6 @), e18672.

doi:1O.137 1 /journal.pone.00l 8672

Science Activities and Curriculum URL http://www.stccmop.org/education/teacher/activityarchive

Undergraduate lnternships URL http://www.stccmop.org/education/undergraduate

Virtual Columbia River URL http://www.stccmop.org/datamart/virtualcolumbiariver

AUTHORS

Vanessa L. Green M.S. serves as Director of Student Development and Diversity at the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction. Having earned a M.S. in Higher Education Administration she has focused her career on broadening participation and increasing engagement, persistence and retention among first-generation and underrepresented students in high school, undergraduate and graduate programs. She served as a founding faculty member and Dean of Students at the King George School in Vermont and served as a member of the Board of Trustees at Marlboro College. She currently serves on the Education and Outreach Steering Committee for the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere lnvestigations (C-DEBI).

Nievita Bueno Watts Ph.D. is a geotogist, science educator and Director of Academic Programs at the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. She conducts research on broadening the participation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences and serves on the Board of Directors of the Geoscience Alliance, a national organization dedicated to building pathways for Native American participation in the geosciences.

Karen Wegner MSW was rhe first Director for K-12 Education for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. She brought years of experience as a wildlife biologist and environmental educator to CMOP. Along with education partners Saturday Academy and the SMILE Program she developed K-12 programs initially offered at CMOP. She credits the success of the K-12 program to the fantastic support offered by CMOP researches and students. Karen is now a Palliative Care Social Worker and Program Manager in Montana.

Michael Thompson Ph.D. is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the NSF Science ahd Technology Center for Coastal Margin and Observation. He has an M.S. in Biochemistry and a PhD in Chemical Education with a focus in Engineering Education. He has been instrumental in the establishment of the EPICS High-school program, development and implementation of teacher training workshops, STEM learning communities for undergraduates, and service-learning experiences for high-school and undergraduate students.

Amy F. Johnson M.S, serves as the Managing Director for the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction. Having earned an M.S. in Management in Science and Technology, she has years of experience managing in science and technology companies and education institutions. Prior to joining CMOP she was the Assistant Dean for Craduate Education at the OCI School of Science & Engineering at the Oregon Health & Science University.

Tawnya D. Peterson Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Institute of Environmental Health at Oregon Health & Science University. She holds a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography and carries out research that seeks to identify the factors that shape planktonic community diversity and function in aquatic systems. ln addition to scientific research, she is interested in the development and implementation of professional development programs for K-l2 teachers.

Antonio M. Baptista Ph.D. is a professor and director of the lnstitute of Environmental Health, Oregon Health & Science University and the director of the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. He has 25 years of experience in team science and graduate-level teaching, and uses leading edge coastal-margin science and technology as a catalyst for informed management decisions, workforce development and broadening participation.

PHOTO CREDITS

All Photos: Courtesy of CMOP staff member Jeff Schilling

Reprinted from Current, the Journal of the National Marine Education Association

 

Incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Geoscience Education

Incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge into Geoscience Education

hydaburg

It Takes a Community to Raise a Scientist:

A Case for Community-Inspired Research and Science Education in an Alaskan Native Community

By Nievita Bueno Watts and Wendy F. Smythe

The quote, “lt takes a village to raise a child,” is attributed to African tradition and carries over to Alaskan Native communities as well (Hall, 2000). Without the support of their community and outside resources, Alaska Native children have a difficult time entering the world of science. Yet increasing the awareness of science, as a tool to help a tribal community monitor and maintain the health of their environment, introduces conflicts and misconceptions in context of traditional cultural practices. Rural communities depend upon traditional food harvested from the environment such as fish, wild game, roots, and berries. In many Native Alaskan villages the health of the environment equals the health of the people (Garza, 2001) . Integrating science with culture in pre-college education is a challenge that requires sensitivity and persistence.

cmopThe Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP) is a multi-institutional, National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center that takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying the region where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. Two of CMOP’s focus areas are biogeochemical changes affecting the health of the coastal margin ecosystem, and socio-economic changes that might affect the lives of people who harvest and consume fish and shellfish.

The Columbia River waters touch the lives and livelihoods of many people, among them a large number of Pacific Northwest lndian tribes. These people depend on the natural and economic resources provided by the Columbia River. Native peoples from California through Alaska also depend on resources from their local rivers, and, currently, many tribes are developing-a workforce trained with scientific skills to manage their own natural resources in a way that is consistent with their traditional way of life. The relationship between Traditional Knowledge (TK) and practices, which are informed by centuries of observation, experimentation and carefully preserved oral records, and Western Science, which is deeply rooted in the philosophies and institutions of Europe, is often an uneasy one.

National progress is being made to open pathways for individuals from Native communities to Western Science higher education programs and back to the communities, where tribal members are empowered to evaluate and monitor the health of their environment. CMOP is part of this national movement. CMOP science is developing tools and techniques to observe and predict changes in the river to ocean system. CMOP education, an essential element of CMOB supports American lndian/Alaska Native students in pursuing academic and career pathways focusing on coastal margin sciences (Creen et al., 2013). One of CMOP’s initiatives is the CMOP- School Collaboratories (CSC) program.

CMOP-SCHOOL COLLABORATORIES

The CMOP-school Collaboratories (CSC) program is based on the idea that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pathway development requires an intensive and sustained effort to build relationships among science educators, students, school personnel, and the tribal community. The over-arching goal is to broaden participation in STEM disciplines. CMOP educators developed the CSC model that includes integration strategies for a community, development of appropriate lessons and field experiences and student action projects that connect local and traditional knowledge with science. Educational experiences are place- based, multi-disciplinary and culturally relevant. The objective is to open students’ minds to the reality of the need for scientists with many different world views and skill sets working together to address our planet’s pressing problems in a holistic manner. CMOP seeks to encourage these students to be part of that solution using both Traditional Knowledge and STEM disciplines.

The program encourages STEM education and promotes college preparatory awareness. This CSC program has three unique characteristics: it introduces coastal margin science as a relevant and viable field of employment; it integrates STEM learning with Traditional Knowledge; and, it invites family and community members to share science experiences. The example presented in this article describes a four-year program implemented in a small village in Southeast Alaska, 200 miles from the capital city of Juneau.


Figure 1: Students, scientists, a cultural expert. and a teacher with scientific equipment used to collect data from the river.

ALASKA NATIVE VILLAGE CASE STUDY

hydaburg sign1Wendy Smythe, a CMOP doctoral candidate and principal investigator for an NSF Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDC) award, is an Alaska Native Haida. As she advanced in her own education, she wanted to share what she had learned with the youth of her tribal community, striving to do so with the blessing of the tribal Elders, and in a way that respected the Traditional Knowledge of the Elders. Dr Bueno Watts is a mentor and expert on broadening participation. She acts in an advisory capacity on this project.

The village school consists of l5 staff members and 50 K-l2 students, with the school experiencing high administration turnover rates. ln the first two years of the program we recruited non-native graduate students to participate in the CSC program. This effort provided them experience working in Native communities. ln the last two years we recruited Native American undergraduate interns to teach lessons, assist with field activities and provide students with the opportunity to become familiar with Native scientists [Figure 1]. lnterns formed part of the science team.

 

STEPS TO GAIN ENTREE TO A VILLAGE

The community must support the concept to integrate science education with traditional practices. Even for this Alaska Native (Smythe), the process of building consensus from the tribe and gaining approval from the Elders and school district for the program was a lengthy one. The first step required letters of support from school district and tribal leaders. The difference in geographical locations proved difficult until Smythe was able to secure an advocate in the tribe who spoke for her at tribal meetings. Face-to-face communications were more successful than distance communications. Persistence proved to be the key to achieving success at getting the consensus of community leaders and school officials’ support. This was the top lesson of l0 learned from this project (Table l).

Traveling to the school to set up the program is no small feat and requires extensive coordination of transportation and supplies. A typical trip requires a day-long plane ride, overnight stay in a nearby town to prepare and gather supplies, a three-hour ferry ride, acquisition of a rental truck and a one-hour drive. Accommodations must be made to board with community members.

The development of appropriate lessons for the curriculum engaged discussions with tribal Elders and community Ieaders on an individual basis. Elders agreed to provide videoed interviews and were given honoraria as a thank you for their participation. Smythe asked the Elders what scientists could do to help the community, what stories can be used, where students and educators could work in the community to avoid intruding on sacred sites, and what information should not be made public. Once Elders agreed to provide interviews and share stories, other community members began to speak about their lives and concerns. This included influence of boarding schools, Iife as it was in the past, and changes they would like to see within the community. This was a significant breakthrough.

Table l . Lessons Learned: ten things to consider when developing a science program with Native communities

1. Persistence is key.

2. Face to-face communication is vital and Lakes time.

3. A community advocate with influence and respect in the community is critical.

4. Consult with the Elders first. They have their finger on the pulse of the community and are the center “of the communication network. Nothing happens without their approval. Find out what it is okay to talk about and where your boundaries are and abide by them. lnclude funds for honorariums in your proposal. Elders’ time and knowledge is valuable and they should be compensated as experts.

5. Partner with individuals or groups, such as the Department of Natural Resources.

6. Find a relevant topic. Be flexible with your curriculum choice. It must reflect the needs and interests of the community and the abilities of the teacher you are working with.

7 . Be prepared, bring supplies with you. Ship items in advance if going to a remote location

8. Have the ability to provide individual instruction for students who need it to prepare projects and practice giving presentations.

9. lnvolve the community. Hold events in a community center to encourage everyone to attend.

10. View your involvement as a long-term investment in a committed community relationship.

fieldnotesNBln addition to the Elders, support was needed from a natural resources representative who functioned as a liaison between our group and the community members. This person’s role is found in most villages and could be the head of the Department of Natural Resources or a similar tribal agency that oversees fish, wildlife, and natural resources. This person provides a critical link between the natural environment and the community. The next step is to go in the field with the natural resources representative, science teachers, EIders, and interested students to identify a meaningful focus for the community. lnitially we focused the project with a scientist’s view of teaching microbiology and geology of mineral deposition in a river ecosystem. However, the team found community interest low and no enthusiasm for this project.

Upon our return to the village, the team and CMOP educators found the focus, almost by accident. We were intrigued by “boil water” notices posted both at the home in which we were staying and on the drinking fountains at the school: The students were all talking about water, as were the Elders. It was clear that the community cared about their water quality. The resulting community-inspired research educational plan was based on using aquatic invertebrate bioindicators as predictors of water quality (Adams, Vaughan & Hoffman Black, 2003). This student project combined science with community needs (Bueno Watts, 2011).

 

CURRICULUM LESSONS

The first classroom lessons addressed water cycle and watershed concepts (Wolftree, 2OO4), which were followed by a field lesson on aquatic invertebrates. Students sampled different locations in an effort to determine biodiversity and quantity of macroinvertebrates. While students were sitting at the river’s edge, the site was described in the students’ Alaska Native tongue by a cultural expert, and then an English translation was provided. This introduced the combination of culture and language into the science lesson.

students-dataloggerFigure 2: Students use data loggers to collect data on temperature, pH, and location.

The village water supply comes from a river that runs through the heart of the community. Thus, this river was our primary field site from which students collected water for chemical sampling and aquatic invertebrates using D-loop nets. Physical and chemical parameters of the river were collected using Vernier LabQuest hand-held data loggers. Students recorded data on turbidity, flow rate, temperature, pH, and pinpointed locations using CPS coordinates (Figure 2].

labquestAquatic invertebrate samples were sorted, classified, counted, recorded, and examined through stereoscopes back in the classroom. Water chemistry was determined by kits that measured concentrations of alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, iron, nitrate/nitrite, dissolved carbon dioxide, and phosphate.

Microbiology assessments were conducted in an effort to detect fecal coliform (using m_FC Agar plates). Students tested water from an estuary, river, drinking fountain, and toilet. Results from estuarine waters showed a high number of fecal coliform, indicating that a more thorough investigation was warranted While fecal coliform are non-disease causing microorganisms, they originate in the intestinal tract, the same place as disease causing bacteria, and so their presence is a bioindicator of the presence of human or animal wastes (Figure 3).

net-collectionStudents learned that the “dirty water” they observed in the river was actually the result of a natural process of acidic muskeg fluids dissolving iron minerals in the bedrock, no health danger. The real health threat was in the estuarine shellfish waters. Students shared all of their results with their families, after which community members began to approach the CMOP science team with questions about the quality of their drinking water. The community was relieved to find that the combined results of aquatic invertebrate counts and water chemistry indicated that the water flowing through their town was healthy. However they were concerned about the potential contamination as indicated by fecal coliform counts in the local estuary where shellfish were traditionally harvested.

ln the second year, a curriculum on oceanography developed by another STC, the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) was introduced (Bruno, Wiener, Kimura & Kimura, 2011). Oceanography lessons focused on water density as a function of salinity and temperature, ocean currents, phytoplankton, and ocean acidification, all areas of research at CMOP. Additional lessons used local shipworms, a burrowing mollusk known to the community, as a marine bioindicator (CMOP Education, 2013). Students continued to conduct bioassessments of local rivers and coastal marine waters.

Hydaburg1Figure 3: Students sort and count aquatic invertebrates as a bioindicator of river health.

Students used teleconferencing technology to participate in scanning electron microscope (SEM) session with a scientist in Oregon who had their samples of aquatic invertebrates. Students showcased their experiments during parent day. Five students (l0%) had parents and/or siblings who attended the event.

SHARING KNOWLEDGE

As a reward for participation in the science program, two students were chosen to attend the American lndian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) 2009 conference in Oregon. Travel expenses were shared between the school, CSC program, and the tribe. ln the following three years an additional ten students attended the AISES conference and presented seven science research posters in New Mexico. Minnesota and Alaska. ln 2012, one student won 3rd place for her shipworm poster presentation (Figure 5). These conference presentations enabled some students to take their first trip out of Alaska.

ln May 20ll the first Science Symposium for grades K-12 allowed students to share their science projects with parents, Elders, and tribal community members. Both students and teachers were prepared on how to do a science fair project. Work with students had to be accomplished on a one-on-one basis, and members of the team were paired with students to assist with completing projects and polishing presentations. Students were not accustomed to speaking publicly, so this practice was a critical step.

The event was held at the local community center, which encouraged Elders and other community members to attend.

Elders requested a public education opportunity to teach the community about watersheds and the effects of logging. Our team incorporated this request into the science symposium. Students led this project by constructing a 5D model of the watershed for display. People could simulate rainfall, see how land use affects runoff and make runoff to river estuary connections. Scientists conducted hands-on demonstrations related to shipworms, local geology, ocean acidification and deepsea research. Language and culture booths were also included. During the symposium, a video of one of the interviews we had conducted with an Elder was shown as a memorial to his passing. The symposium was considered a huge success and was attended by 35 students and 50 community members.

 

Hydaburg4COMMUNITY RESPONSE

The CSC program garnered results that could not have been predicted at the outset. For example, the tribe requested our input when deciding which students should attend a tribal leadership conference and summer camp. Three student interns participated in a collaborative project with the tribe to conduct bio-assessment studies of local rivers and a key sockeye breeding lake. lnterns operated a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) for data collection, resulting in video documentation of the salmon habitat. ln addition to the bio-assessment, the interns conducted interviews with Elders about the rivers in the monitoring project. The results of this study were used to stop logging around sockeye spawning habitat and to ban the harvest of shellfish from contaminated parts of the estuary. Now the tribe is monitoring rivers on its own. ln the near future CMOP plans to install a sensor that can be monitored remotely, and to train people to read and interpret the data.

CONCLUSION

Community-inspired research often produces a ripple effect of unforeseen results. ln this case, inclusion of Elders in the design and implementation of the project produced large scale buy-in from community members at all age levels. Consequently, in a village where traditionally students did not think about education beyond high school, we have had two students attend college, two students attend trade school, five students receive scholarships, and eight Native interns conducting science or science education in the community. And, given the low numbers of Alaska Natives pursuing careers in science, we find those numbers to be remarkable.

REFERENCES

Adams, J., Vaughan, M., & Hoffman Black, S. (200i). Stream Bugs as Biomonitors: A Guide to Pacific Northwest Macroinvertebrate Monitoring and Identification. The Xerces Society. Available from: http://www.xerces.org/identification-guides/#

Bruno, B. C., Wiener, C., Kimura, A., & Kimura, R. (2011). Ocean FEST: Families exploring science together. Journal of Geoscience Education, 59, 132.1.

Bueno Watts, N. (20,1 1). Broadening the participation of Native Americans in Earth Science. (Doctoral dissertation).

Retrieved from Pro-Quest. UMI Number: 3466860. URL http ://repository.asu.edu/items / 9 438

Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. QO13). Shipworm lesson URL http://www.stccmop”org/ education/k1 2/geoscience/shipworms

Carza, D. (200.l). Alaska Natives assessing the health of their environment. lnt J Circumpolar Health. 6O@):a79-g6.

Creen, V., Bueno Watts, N., Wegner, K., Thompson, M., Johnson, A., Peterson, T., & Baptista, A. (201i). Coastal Margin Science and Education in the Era of Collaboratories. Current: The Journal of Marine Education. 28(3).

Hall, M. (2000). Facilitating a Natural Way: The Native American Approach to Education. Creating o Community of Learners: Using the Teacher os Facilitator Model. National Dropout Prevention Center. URL http://www. n iylp.org/articles/Facilitating-a-Natural-Way.pdf

Wolftree, lnc. (200a). Ecology Field Cuide: A Cuide to Wolftree’s Watershed Science Education Program, 5th Edition. Beavercreek, OR: Wolftree, lnc. URL http://www. beoutside.org/PUBLICATIONS/EFCEnglish.pdf

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The educational resources of CMOP are available on their website : U R L http ://www. stccm o p. o rg / education / kl 2

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CMOP is funded by NSF through cooperative agreement OCE- 0424602. Smythe was also supported by NSF grant CEO-I034611. We would like to thank Dr. Margo Haygood, Carolyn Sheehan, and Meghan Betcher for their assistance and guidance with the shipworm project. We would like to thank the Elders and HCA for their guidance, advice and encouragement throughout this program

Nievita Bueno Watts, Pn.D. is a geologist, science educator, and Director of Academic programs at the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction (CMOP). She conducts research on broadening the participation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences and serves on the Board of Directors of the Geoscience Alliance, a national organization dedicated to building pathways for Native American participation in the Earth Sciences.

Wendy F. Smythe is an Alaska Native from the Haida tribe and a Ph.D. candidate at the NSF Science and Technology Center for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction. She runs a geoscience education program within her tribal community in Southeast Alaska focused on the incorporation of Traditional Knowledge into STEM disciplines.

Ecological Métissage: Exploring the Third Space in Outdoor and Environmental Education

Ecological Métissage: Exploring the Third Space in Outdoor and Environmental Education

TlingitCanoeEcological Métissage: Exploring the Third Space in Outdoor and Environmental Education

 

By Greg Lowan

An increasing number of scholars, both Indigenousi and non-Indigenous, are asking, “Is it possible to blend Western and Indigenous North American ecological philosophies and knowledge?” Indeed, many scholars and educators, such as the late Nakoda Chief John Snow (1977–2005), suggest that the future success of our society will require the combined wisdom of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures.

Eminent Tewa scholar and educator Gregory Cajete (2001) relates the story of one of his family members who has a “split head”. This family member is of mixed Euro-American and Indigenous Tewa ancestry and often feels split between the two cultures. Cajete suggests that many people in our predominantly Western society built on the Indigenous territories of Turtle Island (North America) also have a split head; our sociocultural and geographical identities are often disjointed. John Ralston Saul (2008) provides a related view when he suggests that Canadians have forgotten (or been led to forget) the foundational Aboriginal aspects of our culture and languages, resulting in an incomplete national sense of self. Cajete proposes that the ultimate task at hand is to recognize this and find ways to heal the split head of our collective society, blending the best of Western (and other) and Indigenous cultures to create a unified whole.

MetissageFig1

Figure 1. The Third Space. The Third Space makes some people uncomfortable because “hybridity problematizes boundaries” (Pieterse, 2001, p. 220)

In response to these kinds of concerns, Métis scholar Catherine Richardson (2004, p. 16) introduces the concept of the “Third Space” as the existentially blended territory of a Métis mentality. She compares this to the “First Space” of the dominant Euro-Canadian society and the “Second Space” of colonially subjugated Aboriginal peoples. However, during a recent conference presentation, one audience member astutely pointed out to me that the First Space here on Turtle Island was, in fact, Aboriginal, followed by the European Second Space, which resulted in the Third Space of the Métis (see Figure 1, below). The Third Space is a place where Western, Aboriginal and other cultural beliefs, philosophies, values and knowledge intersect, cohabit and intermingle (Richardson, 2004).

 

. Zembylas and Avraamidou (2008) propose that challenging this further opens up the Third Space. Pieterse suggests that hybridity involves recognizing the “in-betweens” and “interstices” (p. 238) and pushes us beyond false dualistic conceptions of culture and race. According to Pieterse, the Third Space requires “collective liminality, collective awareness” (p. 239) similar to the Trickster knowledge celebrated in many Indigenous cultures. Finding the Third Space involves collectively embracing a hybrid or Trickster consciousness.

MetissageFig 2

Figure 2 . Finding common ground betweenWestern science and Indigenous knowledge (Barnhardt and Kawagley, 2005).

Alaskan scholars Ray Barnhardt and Oscar Kawagley (2005) provide the illuminating Venn diagram below to compare and contrast Western and Indigenous approaches in search of common ground. From their diagram we can see that there are indeed many similarities between Western science and Indigenous knowledge of nature. Concepts such as a unified universe; personal qualities such as perseverance, curiosity and honesty; empirical observation of nature; and a desire to understand the behaviour and patterns of plants, animals and other natural phenomena are common to both traditions.    

Aikenhead (2008) uses the Ancient Greek terms “episteme” and “phronesis” respectively to describe Western science and Indigenous knowledge. He defines episteme as thinking focused on how the world works and phronesis as practical wisdom- in- action. Baumard (1994) defines phronesis as a blend between “techne”, which is practical knowledge, and episteme. However, he also suggests that the Greeks actually recognized four dominant forms of knowledge: episteme (theoretical or philosophical knowledge), techne (practical knowledge), phronesis (theoretically informed practice) and “metis”ii (oblique or intuitive knowledge), a term etymologically related to the Latin “mixtus”, meaning mixed, which is the root of modern terms such as “métissage” (Dolmage, 2009). Baumard suggests that while episteme, techne and phronesis have been widely recognized and preserved in Western history, metis (pronounced “meh-tiss”) was suppressed and ignored until Détienne and Vernant’s (1974, 1991) seminal efforts in its recovery. As a Métis person, I find the etymological, epistemological and ontological implications of metis as a way of understanding and being in the world deeply intriguing.

Metis as a form of knowledge was suppressed in Western history for various reasons. Dolmage (2009) suggests that metis wasn’t widely recognized for the past two thousand years because of its associations with femininity embodied in the form of the goddess Metis, one of Zeus’s wives and the mother of Athena. Détienne and Vernant (1974, 1991) also propose that metis has been suppressed throughout Western history because of its association with animals and nature. Examples of metis in Greek mythology and philosophy often involve the dolos (tricks or ruses) of animals like the fox, the octopus or the squid, which is able to turn itself inside out. In their concluding chapter, Détienne and Vernant (1974, 1991) suggest that:

In studies of the Greeks pursued by scholars who claim to be their heirs, there has been a prolonged silence on the subject of the intelligence of cunning [metis]. The fundamental reasons for this have been two-fold. The first is perhaps that, from a Christian point of view, it was inevitable that the gulf separating men from animals should be increasingly emphasized and that human reason should appear even more clearly separated from animal behaviour than it was for the ancient Greeks. The second and even more powerful reason is surely that the concept of Platonic Truth, which has overshadowed a whole area of intelligence with its own kinds of understanding, has never really ceased to haunt Western metaphysical thought. (pp. 318–319)

The oblique, intuitive and subtle boundary-crossing characteristics of metis as a way of knowing and being in the world could be considered as a more flexible alternative to the absolutist legacy of Platonic thought that is reflected in the single-culture nationalism of, for example, many European nations and the United States (Saul, 2008). This idea might prove illuminating in our search for the Third Space between Western and Indigenous knowledge and wisdom.

Two-Eyed Seeing—viewing the world simultaneously through both Western scientific and Aboriginal lenses to form a focused and unified vision—is another theory developed by Mi’kmaq Elder Albert Marshall (Lefort and Marshall, 2009).

Concepts such as the Third Space, healing the split head, Two-Eyed Seeing and metis provide a compelling theoretical basis for exploring intercultural environmental ethics and education. I use the term “ecological métissage” to collectively describe these concepts. The concept of ecological métissage arises from Thomashow’s (1996) description of “ecological identity” as the way that we understand ourselves in relation to the natural world and an understanding of “métissage” as a mixing or blending often associated with culture or ethnicity (Pieterse, 2001). Therefore, ecological métissage denotes a blending of two or more ecological world views in personal identity, philosophy and practice. The following explores examples of ecological métissage in practice.

Intercultural outdoor and environmental education is a growing field of practice with a limited but growing body of literature. Many organizations across Canada and around the world are currently delivering programs designed to bridge cultures. While some programs aim to share Indigenous knowledge with Indigenous students only, others are open to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Other programs also attempt to blend Indigenous knowledge with modern scientific approaches, seeking the previously discussed Third Space. The following is a brief review of a selection of programs and key scholars in these areas. One study that I first encountered during my master’s research (Lowan, 2008, 2009) was Takano’s (2005) description of a community-developed land -based cultural education program based in Igloolik, Nunavut. Takano, a researcher of Japanese descent, participated in Paariaqtuqtut, a 400 kilometre journey through the community’s ancestral territory in May 2002. Paariaqtuqtut means “meeting on the trail” in Inuktitut and was developed by a group of community members and Elders. Paariaqtuqtut aims to connect young people with cultural skills and teachings in a land-based context. Takano (2005) found that community members in Igloolik were concerned that many youth were losing connections with their land and culture. Those interviewed observed that this leads to youth feeling lost between two worlds, disconnected from their community and culture, yet unprepared to live in the Western world. Takano also recorded the experiences of several participants who felt that Paariaqutuqtut had helped them to reconnect with their land and culture.

David Lertzman (2002) and Thom Henley (1989) provide descriptions of the Rediscovery program. Rediscovery programs have been founded across North America and around the world in various forms. Some are very small and focused on one particular Aboriginal community while others, such as Ghost River Rediscovery (Lertzman, 2002) in Calgary, are large, year-round programs. Ghost River Rediscovery is based on local Indigenous traditions and welcomes students of all ages from all cultural backgrounds. I have had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer with them on several occasions. Henley (1989), one the program’s original founders, states, “Rediscovery brings together people from many different racial backgrounds . . . . When people from different races have the opportunity to talk to one another, to work and play together, then inevitably they begin to learn about each other’s lives and cultures” (p. 35).

As previously mentioned, a recent issue of Green Teacher (Fall, 2009) focused on Mik’maq Elder Albert Marshall’s concept of Two-Eyed Seeing. Several programs embodying Two-Eyed Seeing were profiled. For example, Hatcher and Bartlett from Cape Breton University’s Integrative Science program (2009a, 2009b; Bartlett, 2009) describe units that they developed on various subjects, such as birds, traditional medicine and astronomy, for high school students. In their units they attempt to integrate Western science with Mi’kmaq knowledge and philosophies of nature. They recognize that truly blending Western and Indigenous approaches is a challenging task for educators.

Further examples of inspiring Two-Eyed Seeing programs are provided in the same issue of Green Teacher. Métis educators Deanna Kazina and Natalie Swayze (2009) relate their experiences with “Bridging the Gap”, an inner-city program in Winnipeg that works with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth. Bridging the Gap strives to integrate Western and Aboriginal approaches to learning about the natural world. Based on their description and another article by Swayze (2009) in the Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, it appears thatthey are experiencing success. Kazina and Swayze instill genuine cultural awareness in their students through lessons such as how to offer tobacco and how to respectfully approach the Elders who are a strong part of their program.

Gloria Snively (2009) also relates her experiences as a long-time teacher-educator at the University of Victoria interested in what she calls “cross-cultural science”. She uses a lesson on dentalium, a shell traditionally used as money by Indigenous people across North America, as a vehicle for discussing Two-Eyed Seeing. Snively observes:

Cross-cultural science education is not merely throwing in an Aboriginal story, putting together a diorama of Aboriginal fishing methods, or even acknowledging the contributions Aboriginal peoples have made to medicine. Most importantly, cross-cultural science education is not anti -Western science. Its purpose is not to silence voices, but to give voice to cultures not usually heard and to recognize and celebrate all ideas and contributions. It is as concerned with how we teach as with what we teach. (p. 38)

While there is a growing body of literature on intercultural outdoor and environmental education in Canada, no comprehensive studies to date have focused on the experiences and competencies of intercultural outdoor and environmental educators and the deeper societal implications of their work. Who are these “border crossers” (Hones, 1999; Nguyen, 2005; Pieterse, 2001)? What led them to their chosen vocation? What makes them effective? And how might they be reshaping Canadian ecological identity? Why is this important? These are the kinds of questions that I am currently addressing in interviews with contemporary intercultural outdoor and environmental educators as part of my doctoral research.

i Cultural terms, such as Indigenous, Aboriginal, Western, and Elder, have been intentionally capitalized as a sign of respect. ii In this article “Métis” refers to Métis people, while “Metis” will be understood as a figure from Greek mythology, with “metis” denoting a recognized form of knowledge in ancient Greek society.

References

Barnhardt, R., & Kawagley, A. O. (2005). Indigenous knowledge systems and Alaska Native ways of knowing. Anthropology and Education Quarterly,36(1), 8–23.

Bartlett, C. (2009). Mother Earth, Grandfather Sun. Green Teacher, 86, 29–32.

Cajete, G. (2001). Indigenous education and ecology: Perspectives of an American Indian educator. In J. A. Grim (Ed.), Indigenous traditions and ecology: The interbeing of cosmology and community. Cambridge, MT: Harvard University Press.

Detienne, M., & Vernant, J. P. (1974). Les ruses de l’intelligence: La mêtis des Grecs.Paris: Flammarion. Detienne, M., & Vernant, J. P. (1991). Cunning intelligence in Greek culture and society. Trans. Janet Lloyd. Chicago: U of Chicago Press.

Dolmage, J. (2009). Metis, mêtis, mestiza, Medusa: Rhetorical bodies across rhetorical traditions. Rhetoric Review, 28(1), 1–28.

Hatcher, A., & Bartlett, C. (2009a). MSIT: Transdisciplinary, cross-cultural science. Green Teacher, 86, 7–10. Hatcher, A., & Bartlett, C. (2009b). Traditional medicines: How much is enough. Green Teacher, 86, 11–13.

Henley, T. (1989). Rediscovery: Ancient pathways, new directions, outdoor activities based on native traditions. Edmonton: Lone Pine Publishing.

Hones, D. F. (1999). Making peace: A narrative study of a bilingual liaison, a school, and a community. Teachers College Record, 101(1), 106–134.

Kazina, D., & Swayze, N. (2009). Bridging the gap: Integrating Indigenous knowledge and science in a non-formal environmental learning program. Green Teacher, 86, 25–28.

Lefort, N., & Marshall, A. (2009, May). Learning with the world around us: Practicing two-eyed seeing. Paper presented at the 5th World Environmental Education Congress, Montreal, PQ.

Lertzman, D. (2002). Rediscovering rites of passage: Education, transformation, and the transition to sustainability. Ecology and Society, 5(2): Article 30.Retrieved February 27th, 2007 from http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/ vol5/iss2/art30/ Lowan, G. (2008). Paddling tandem: A collaborative exploration of Outward Bound Canada’s Giwaykiwin Program for Aboriginal youth. Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education, 20(1), 24–28.

Lowan, G. (2009). Exploring place from an Aboriginal perspective: Considerations for outdoor and environmental education. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 14,42–58.

Nguyen, N. H. C. (2005). Eurasian/Amerasian perspectives: Kim Lefevre’s Métisse Blanche and Kien Nguyen’s The Unwanted. Asian Studies Review, 29,107–122.

Pieterse, J. N. (2001). Hybridity, so what?: The anti-hybridity backlash and the riddles of recognition. Theory, Culture & Society, 18(2–3), 219–245.

Richardson, C. L. (2004). Becoming Metis: Therelationship between the sense of Metis self and cultural stories. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC.

Saul, J. R. (2008). A fair country: Telling truths about Canada. Toronto, ON: Penguin Group.

Snively, G. (2009). Money from the sea: A cross-cultural Indigenous science activity. Green Teacher, 86, 33–38. Snow, J. (2005). These mountains are our sacred places. Calgary, AB: Fifth House.(Original work published 1977).

Swayze, N. (2009). Engaging Indigenous urban youth in environmental learning: The importance of place revisited. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 14, 59–72.

Takano, T (2005). Connections with the land: Land-skills courses in Igloolik, Nunavut. Ethnography, 6(4), 463–486. Thomashow, M. (1996). Ecological identity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Zembylas, M., & Avraamidou, L. (2008). Postcolonial findings of space and identity in science education: Limits, transformations, prospects. Cultural Studies in Science Education, 3, 977–998.

 

Greg Lowan is a proud member of the Métis Nation of Canada. He is currently a contract lecturer of Aboriginal Education at Lakehead University and a PhD candidate in Educational Contexts at the University of Calgary. This research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Killam Trust and the University of Calgary.   This article originally appeared in Pathways: The Ontario Journal of Outdoor Education 2010, 23(2).

Students on the Road for Science

Students on the Road for Science

Students on the Road for Science


Students_on_the_Road_for_Science_1For two weeks in July, seven Heritage University students and 11 high school students from White Swan and Yakima traveled more than 2,000 miles for a class that was one part field experience and one part cultural exchange. The course, People of the Big River, took the students on an academic adventure that crossed eastern Washington and Oregon.

from Heritage University website

“This was a really unique experience that connected these students with science, history and culture in a way you just can’t do in a classroom,” said Dr. Jessica Black, assistant professor of Environmental Science. “They really got a sense for how modern-day science is intertwined with traditional practices for the preservation and management of natural resources.” 

The long journey included visits to the tribal lands of peoples who once lived on the Columbia River or one of its tributaries. Students met with tribal elders who described their traditional lands, ecosystems and cultures to help bridge the gap between Western science and traditional ecological knowledge. The students took this broader traditional perspective and—with guidance from Heritage professors, White Swan High School science teachers, and scientists from local tribes and the US Forest Service—used it to understand common goals surrounding natural resource management and sustainability. 

Read the entire article on the Heritage University website here

The Power of One

The Power of One

 

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The Power of One

by Michael J. Caduto

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
—    Mahatma Gandhi

 

About five years ago I started to plan for a new book for children, parents and teachers about global climate change. I soon found that there was no shortage of materials that addressed how humankind is generating greenhouse gases, and explained the myriad ways in which this pollution is changing the weather and impacting people’s lives and environmental health worldwide.

Climate Change on a Kid’s Scale

When I began presenting a related program called Kids’ Power, I encountered a deep-seated concern among many young people who were struggling with this overarching environmental issue. Children’s natural instincts lead them to want to do something about the issues that affect people and the natural world, especially plants and animals, but climate change doesn’t lend itself to clear cut projects like Pennies for Peace or setting up a school-wide recycling program. Some students were vexed by the complexity of climate change; some felt that the issue was so grand they couldn’t take meaningful personal action to help solve the problem; still others saw it as a challenge to meet head-on. One thing was clear: In order for children to know what can be done to solve the problem of climate change, they must have a solid understanding of how our actions affect the environment, as well as what kinds of natural and physical forces can be used to solve the related problems.

The book that was finally published, Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun, explores climate change and includes activities for helping to solve the problem. It then takes a critical step beyond—helping youth to understand the principles behind the forces of nature so that they can harness the power of the sun and wind to generate renewable energy for use in everyday life. To those ends, it covers essential concepts in physics, such as the electromagnetic energy engaged in wind turbines and when pedaling a bicycle generator.

 

CadutoSidebar1The Power of One

I also discovered a phenomenon that I call The Power of One: every single positive action taken by each individual adds up to create a huge impact. For example: whenever fortyfive kids convince their parents to replace just one incandescent lightbulb at home with an energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) bulb, they save more than enough energy to supply all of the lighting for one entire household. If every home in the United States replaced just one incandescent lightbulb with an energy-efficient bulb, it would have the same effect as taking 800,000 cars off the road— reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 9 billion pounds each year. And if each and every household in the United States simply started drying clothes online, instead of using a clothes dryer, we would immediately cut down on the use of enough electricity to shut down thirty average-sized coal-fired power plants. Every action we take to cut down on energy use and generate renewable energy combines with the actions of others to produce a positive synergistic effect.

Green Giants

Still, something else was needed in the book; inspirational stories about young people who have responded to current environmental challenges with projects and programs that are creating a brighter future. These young people come from throughout North America and from such far-flung countries as the United Arab Emirates. Their projects range from the “Cool Coventry Club” (Connecticut) that encourages commitments to reduce energy consumption, generate renewable energy and cut back on greenhouse gases; to anti engine-idling campaigns in Utah and Manitoba; and to generating local hydroelectric power for rural villages in the mountains of Indonesia.

The common element among all of these successful projects is that the children use local resources, harnessed by virtue of their own ingenuity, to make a real contribution toward fighting climate change and other environmental problems. They demonstrate how the solutions are all around us—blowing in the wind, shining down upon us from our home star and flowing through remote mountain streams. These “Green Giants” show that it is possible to (literally) set and run our clocks by using the forces of nature; to create a new world of renewable energy in which fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) will become obsolete.

We adults have left today’s children with a legacy of environmental problems on a global scale. The least we can do is provide them with the knowledge and skills they need, as well as a sense of their own personal power, so that they can understand how to live in balance with the environment today in order to create a sustainable future. Saving our home planet us an exciting, empowering and fun way to connect with other youth in a common cause. Following is an example of how twelve-year-old Adeline Tiffanie Suwana started an environmental movement in Indonesia that has become a powerful force for improving the lives of many people and caring for the natural world.

 

Friend of Nature

Adeline Tiffanie Suwana
Kelapa Gading Permai, Indonesia

Excerpted from: Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Super-Charged Science Projects for Kids. ©2011 by Michael J. Caduto. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

CadutoPic1Adeline was eleven years old and had just graduated from Primary Six in Indonesia when she first got involved with protecting the environment. “I think the most important environmental issue that we face in Indonesia and the world today is Climate Change, which has already disrupted our environment and communities,” she says, “Disasters such as floods, drought, and sinking islands could become more frequent and more severe. Those concerns encouraged me to start asking children to understand, commit and act to save our Earth.”

Many of Indonesia’s low-lying coastal farms would flood if sea levels continue to rise due to global warming. Two thousand of the nation’s smaller islands could be underwater by 2030. Rising temperatures may shorten the rainy season and make storms more severe. These changes would affect Indonesia’s rice yield—the staple food for more than 230 million people.

“Nature is declining in quality at an alarming rate,” Adeline says, “starting from where we live and stretching to the sea—the river, the forest and the air that we breathe. The effects can be felt in the form of floods, air pollution and beach erosion due to climate change and global warming.”

But Adeline is hopeful. Speaking with wisdom beyond her years, she says that, starting at an early age, children need to be encouraged to grow a sense of love and caring toward nature and the environment.

CadutoSidebar2Planting Trees in a Fragile Land

How does an eleven-year-old start to save the world? In July 2008, after graduating from primary school, Adeline spent her holiday teaching friends about the importance of mangrove trees. Soon they were planting mangroves at Taman Wisata Alam Angke Kapuk, the Jakarta Mangrove Rehabilitation Center.

She says that in order for the project to succeed, it was important “to make children include their parents so that they start realizing that it is time that we contribute to the world to save our mother nature from destruction.”

Adeline’s enthusiasm is contagious. She and her colleagues soon formed a group called Sahabat Alam, or “Friends of Nature.” The number of children who joined Sahabat Alam and the environmental projects they took on grew quickly. The group’s activities included ecotourism, planting coral reefs, freeing Penyu Sisik (hawksbill turtles) and cleaning marine debris from beaches.

Several national and international Environmental Organizations have now recognized the work of Sahabat Alam. In May of 2009 Friends of Nature received the Biodiversity Foundation’s (Yayasan Kehati’s) Highest Award and Appreciation in honor of the group’s commitment toward developing awareness among children and youth as the next generation of stewards of Indonesia’s biodiversity.

CadutoPic2Adeline says she feels honored that she was awarded first place in the 2009 International Young Eco-Hero Awards (for ages eight to thirteen) by the San Francisco-based Action for Nature, a non-profit organization that aims to inspire young people to take action for the environment and protect the natural world in their own neighborhood and around the globe. She was also selected as an Indonesian Delegate by UNEP (United Nation Environment Programme) to participate in the 2009 TUNZA International Children’s Conference in Daejon, Korea in August 2009.

Adeline doesn’t see herself as being much different from any other twelve-year-old. “I am not the only Eco-Hero,” she says. “Children, youths and adults all over the world can do the same thing as long as they have the willingness and commitment. This comes first from the heart, then from sharing with friends and starting to take action.”

CadutoPic3Helping Rural Families

Adeline also sees the connection between the needs of people and the natural world. “I would like to help our remote brothers and sisters to fulfill their dream [of] flowing electricity into their houses for children to study, watch television, cook and all other activities, especially at night.” She is now involved with a program that is bringing electricity into remote areas that have never before had power. She points out that, “Nearly half of Indonesia’s 235 million people live in areas without electricity.”

The solution? An Electric Generator Water Reel, a small hydroelectric generator that uses the natural power of a waterfall to produce what Adeline describes as “clean, environmentally friendly, Green, renewable and sustainable energy that does not increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or worsen the greenhouse effect.” The water reel simply turns in the falling water and doesn’t affect the waterfall or the flow of the stream. (See the box called “Reel Math”.)

Sahabat Alam is getting lots of help from parents and sisters, as well as the Indonesian Ministry of Environment. For the first installation, the group traveled to the region of South Cianjur, West Java, which is a four-hour drive from Jakarta. After walking up into the mountains for another two hours, the team finally reached the village of Kampung Cilulumpang. By the time they left, the villagers had electricity for the first time in their lives. The group is now building Electric Generator Water Reels for two other villages, and it plans to bring this project to villagers throughout Indonesia.

“Previously, children’s voices were not heard,” says Adeline, “but now, we are coming together to voice our commitment to our national leaders and world leaders, to make peace and start having one voice to save the Earth.”

CadutoPic4“I share and affirm with all of them that, even with our small hands, children can initiate, contribute and implement environmental projects starting from their small community to nation-wide projects to contributing to the world by helping hinder climate change and global warming and save the earth from further destruction.”

“We are the next and future generations of the world. In our hands, the world and its contents are at stake.”

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Resources

Adeline Tiffanie Suwana’s Friends of Nature website
Action for Nature
Change the World Kids
Young Voices on Climate Change
YouTube video for Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun
Sources That Explain Global Climate Change:
Tiki the Penguin
Global Warming Question and Answer Web Site, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) Asheville, North Carolina
Renewable Energy for Kids:
EcoKids Canada, Earth Day Canada, Toronto, Ontario
Energy Kids, U.S. Energy Information Agency, Washington, D.C.
Curriculum Connections:
The Pembina Institute: Lessons & Activities, Curriculum Links
Natural Resources Canada’s Climate Change Teacher Resources: Grade 5

 

Michael J. Caduto, author, environmental educator, storyteller and ecologist, is well known as the creator and co-author of the landmark Keepers of the Earth® series and Native American Gardening. He also wrote Pond and Brook and Earth Tales from Around the World. His latest books are Catch the Wind, Harness the Sun: 22 Supercharged Projects for Kids (Storey Publishing) and Riparia’s  River (Tilbury House). His many awards include the Aesop Prize, NAPPA Gold Award and the Brimstone Award (National Storytelling Network). Michael’s programs and publications are described on his website: www.p-e-a-c-e.net

 

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