Galloway Township Nature of Learning Program
Three neighboring schools in Galloway Township: the Township's Middle School, and Reeds Road and Roland Rogers Elementary Schools are partnering with the New Jersey Field Office to encourage their students to greater appreciation of the natural world and environmental concerns. The initial impetus for the program was the desire to honor a teacher, Mr. Guy Buckelew, who had been particularly influential in championing environmental education. The three schools are fortunate to have two retention ponds adjacent to their campuses. The New Jersey Field Office's Partners Program began to help the schools in developing the ponds and their surrounding area into an "outdoor classroom" that the schools named "Mr. B's Backyard Classroom." A grant from the External Affairs of the Service's Region 5 funded much of the equipment for establishing the site.
The "classroom" was dedicated on June 1 of this year. Then a few days later it became the setting for a Nature Fest catering to 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students with 8th-graders doing much of the planning and work for the event. Dr. Jim Cramer, Communications Specialist, and Eric Schrading, who heads the New Jersey's Partners program, represented the New Jersey Field Office at Nature Fest. (Jim engaged the students in informal conversations about environmental issues, and Eric was "tweaking" the dock that Partners has set up for the schools on the larger pond.)
The students were very engaged, asked intelligent questions, and obviously enjoyed themselves.