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Athens Teacher Awarded Conservation Grant

Athens Teacher Awarded Conservation Grant

By Linda May

Congratulations to Lori Jackson, third-grade teacher at Barnett Shoals Elementary in Athens! Her “Earth Matters” project was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section. Funded by TERN, the Nongame Section’s friends group, this award is designed to recognize and support the efforts of an exceptional third-grade teacher who demonstrates energy and innovation in teaching life sciences.

Through Jackson’s direction, third-graders established a waste recycling program for about 520 students ages 4-12 at Barnett Shoals. The children are collecting lunch scraps daily and adding them to the worm composting bins they built, converting the leftovers to fertile soil for use in the school’s flower and vegetable gardens. Weekly journaling sessions provide opportunities to observe how the food items are breaking down and to formulate solutions to problems with the composting system.

The third-graders also created several recycling stations throughout the school to reduce the amount of trash going to the local landfill. Some students will appear on the school’s Bear-TV, encouraging others to recycle and demonstrating how to properly separate items into the appropriate bins. This commercial will also air on a local television station, reaching the community beyond the school.

To investigate what happens to items that cannot be recycled, a field trip to the local landfill and to the Athens-Clarke County Recycling Center is planned. The children will take pictures to create a photo story about their experiences.

In addition to these hands-on discoveries, the kids are learning about the importance of conserving natural resources through Project Learning Tree activities (www.plt.org). Lessons such as “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” and “Pollution Search” cover curriculum standards while revealing the consequences of not caring for the Earth. The good news? By using natural resources wisely, we can prevent habitat loss and keep plants and animals from becoming endangered or from going extinct.

Lori Jackson said “it is very important to find and teach alternative methods for disposing our waste” so as to prevent the destruction of wildlife habitat for more landfills.

“The grant has given our grade level the opportunity to see how real conservation and recycling takes place on a daily and weekly basis.”

Her hope is that the students’ new stewardship habits will carry over into the communities where they live, inspiring others to conserve natural resources.

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