Slider and Paulownia lead one group down the park’s boardwalk until the auditorium, school buses and lunch bags are a bit farther away than some would like. Since 1995, TREE has taught more than 12,000 public and private school students, parents and teachers in the New Orleans area.The group hops off the boardwalk and sits in a wide circle. The curriculum is based on program models provided by the Institute for Earth Education, a Greenville, W.
When asked about their personal environmental actions before and after the program, 92 percent of the students reported making significant changes in their daily lives.
“We wanted kids to have amazing experiences,” she says.
“In the city, vacant lots are not enticing places for any of our kids, so being out in nature and having natural woods —one kid said, ‘I got two trees in my yard, I thought that was the woods! The first schooling in the outdoor classroom begins with a song: “All living things on the Earth are connected.” Paulownia and Slider explain, using a few props and balls of clay, how sun, soil, water and air compose the natural world.
The fourth-graders line up for their wooden medallion nametags and their backpacks, which hold their , a magnifying glass and a pencil.
A parent-chaperone and five teachers from the Broadmoor school lead color-coordinated groups outside. They’re in the middle of the woods, far from Broadmoor, but they agree that sitting in the dirt is way better than sitting in class.