Our mission is to teach elementary school students about the unique habitats of Martha’s Vineyard, to inspire them to become habitat stewards through hands-on restoration, and to engage them as ecological ambassadors in their community.
There are many wonderful environmental education programs on Martha’s Vineyard; Habitat Kids is unique as a conservation education program designed to directly engage island students in habitat stewardship and conservation efforts. Our goal is to motivate children to become natural conservation leaders and stewards of private and public land within our island community.
The Habitat Kids pilot project came to fruition through collaboration with The Nature Conservancy’s Vineyard Habitat Network. In 2015 Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship awarded funding to develop a pilot program for MV Habitat Kids, which has since been aligned with BiodiversityWorks as an extension of our nature mentoring program.
The pilot program is a school-based, grassroots curriculum focused on teaching children about local habitats, how and why these habitats are threatened by fragmentation and climate change, and what they can do to help. A key element of the program is to foster a personal understanding of how students can have a meaningful impact on the local environment, both directly and as environmental ambassadors within their community.
As a part of the curriculum, students create a patch of habitat at their school using native plants and other habitat features, such as wetlands and nest sites, for wildlife. The schoolyard habitat patch is then used as an outdoor classroom for students to learn about how habitat patches connect populations and therefore increase biodiversity. Plants from the habitat patch can also be used to launch community stewardship initiatives. For example, last year, students from one of our local elementary schools used seeds collected from their habitat patch to grow native plant seedlings and hosted a native plant giveaway within their community. Community members who participated in the giveaway were asked to take an MV habitats quiz designed by students and a pledge to help create pollinator habitat. At another site, several classrooms collaborated with The Nature Conservancy and spread seeds collected from their schoolyard habitat patch at an ongoing sandplain grassland restoration site. This project was featured in a short film as a part of the Martha’s Vineyard Sustainable Film Series.
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Contact: Kendra Buresch, firstname.lastname@example.org