Saturday, September 5, 2009

School Yard Habitats

The New Jersey Coalition for School Yard Habitats has helped dozens of schools throughout New Jersey develop and maintain on-site outdoor classrooms that are used by students.

These habitats can be used across disciplines - not just in science, but in social studies, language arts, mathematics and art.

Imagine students being actively engaged in learning while using outdoor trails, butterfly and flower gardens, man-made ponds and wetlands, observation decks, bird blinds, amphitheaters and diverse wooded areas. Such sites are both popular as well as possible on most school properties, including very built urban and suburban environments.

The New Jersey Coalition for Schoolyard Habitats is dedicated to training, networking and promoting the development or enhancement of schoolyard habitat projects for educational purposes. NJDEP's Division of Fish & Wildlife workshops (WILD School Sites) are open to any teacher or environmental resource person interested in establishing, maintaining, and effectively using this type of learning environment.

The coalition is an affiliate of the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education (ANJEE). Staff within the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection helped develop the coalition and assist with coordinating its activities.

The NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife offers certification and a sign proclaiming certified "Wild School Site" status for schools that meet the criteria for certification. They also offer mentoring to teachers who need help getting started and can facilitate training opportunities among coalition members.