Teachers of the education program at Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) inspire children to make a positive influence in their community and environment. FOR instructors periodically visit classrooms to teach an interactive lesson about things such as watersheds, or the rain
cycle. When the weather warms up, students visit FOR’s premises for a field trip. The day is planned so that each class is able to do four programs separated by a lunch break. Watching the kids adjust to being in nature and getting active with hands-on learning is eye-opening.

During my internship, I was able to witness the change in the attitude of the students. In the
beginning of the day, kids are hesitant to engage with the instructor and nature. At the end of the program, they feel confident in themselves. The confidence comes after overcoming the initial shock of being outside and the students are able to apply skills that they have been learning in the classrooms all year long. The students are able to gain perspective on how something so little can create such a positive change.

Recent research has started to confirm that place-based learning is extremely effective. Place-based learning
incorporates lessons that combine what the students are learning in the classrooms with community issues and provides hands-on experiences. It connects the students to their community and gives them a chance to do something significant. At FOR, students are able to relate science to local issues and form a bond with FOR. The programs at FOR reconnect students with the natural world.

Since more and more kids spend most of their time indoors, they may not be as interested in fighting for the protection of the environment. This is where programs like FOR’s can make a difference. If students are given opportunities to learn outdoors and form a relationship with it, they will be more willing to protect it. Students have the
opportunity to be confident in
themselves and take the lead in
making decisions that could bring about change in the community.

At FOR, students are able to become more comfortable with themselves as a leader, an individual, and a competent, caring member of the community. The skills that students learn while participating in programs at FOR are irreplaceable.

By Bailey Roseveare, FOR Volunteer

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