You can't teach conservation in a book. Well, maybe you can, but not in a memorable, life-changing way, I think.
As a farmer's daughter, I grew to love the land. As my hands worked the soil, I noticed the seeds growing. As my toes wiggled in the mud from Dad's drip irrigation on dry, dusty days, I appreciated the water supply from the underground aquifer. A heart for conservation is best born outdoors. For this reason, the Flint River Project was the best project my school ever created.
The Flint River Project: A Whole School Studies a River for Four Days
In this 2009 project that I helped organize along with curriculum director, Betty Shiver, students got on the river. Some of them collected and counted macroinvertebrates. Others took water samples. Some visited and documented historical sites, while others wrote poetry and read literature.
As I consider this project, I'm struck by the incredible results. One of the students, Casey Cox, moved back home to Camilla, where she went to school. Casey is now the Executive Director of the Georgia Association of Conservation Districts.
By opening up the river to the students of Westwood, we are not only creating a unique learning opportunity but also a burgeoning appreciation for the natural resource we are so very lucky to have here in south Georgia. The river will be an integral part of my future, as I intend to double major in business and conservation at the University of Florida, and I anticipate returning to this area to preserve the beautiful Flint. I hope my fellow high school students now recognize the importance of the river to our local economy and ecosystem.
These students come back and often say it was the most meaningful project of their high school years. While many of them go outdoors, the Flint River Project was a true outdoor classroom experience. To learn conservation, we must not only dig our hands in the dirt, we must join hands to protect the earth.
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