Wild Earth’s Middle School Program Yields Positive Outcomes
Middle-schoolers of the Kingston City School District have been participating in the Wild Earth Nature Connection & Experiential Education Project since the Fall of 2017. First piloted and tested in the Spring of 2017 with 500 students trying out the program, the project has rapidly progressed, being adopted into the J. W. Bailey and M. C. Miller School Comprehensive Education Plans for the 2018-19 school year. The Wild Earth team works directly with KCSD teachers and administrators to tie-in their programming with current classroom curriculum, extending student learning and diversifying the connections these students will make during the school year, whether it be a connection to nature or to another person they are learning from.
This project allows students to “enter the wild” with field trips and guided-recess days with Wild Earth representatives. Students visit Juniper Flats, Scenic Hudson's wooded property in Kingston, to connect with nature and play outdoors engaging in handicrafts and games that promote confidence, perseverance, character and a love of nature. This year the program will serve approximately 1,100 middle school students between JWB and MCM.
A study was recently completed by The Benjamin Center (SUNY New Paltz) and the results for year one are now available with positive findings! Here are a few key highlights taken from Wild Earth’s Executive Summary and website blog:
- Positive and statistically significant outcomes were found in the following social and emotional learning areas: positive peer interaction, confidence, perseverance, empathy, and comfort in nature.
- By all accounts, Wild Earth activities promoted teamwork, cooperation, and positive peer interactions.
- All school stakeholders were very enthusiastic about the project; school administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, and lunch monitors spoke very highly of it.
This Spring, students will continue the program with more guided-recess days, plus take adventures on the “Spring Into Nature” field trips with their new friends from Wild Earth. More outdoors, more learning, more relationships, and more fun!
For information about the Wild Earth Program in KCSD Middle Schools, visit: https://wildearth.org/kingston-project
For details about the Wild Earth Nature Connection & Experiential Education Project and year one research results with the KCSD program, visit: https://wildearth.org/blog/research-results-positive-outcomes-in-kingston
All photos below are courtesy of © Maggie Heinzel-Neel