I have worked as an intern for the Environmental Education for Kids (EEK) program this past semester. The EEK program focuses on getting Whitman College students into the classrooms of schools in the Walla Walla community to teach about the environment. This is a program dedicated to promoting environmental education for youth. I was initially drawn to this program because I think environmental education is very important and can create a lot of change. The more knowledge people have about the problems in the environment the more likely they are to do something about them. I think it is really valuable to start environmental education when people are young so they are aware of the natural world around them from an early age and can carry that knowledge with them for the rest of their lives. While working with this program I hope to help it prosper and to get involved in the classroom to help continue environmental education in this area.
Goals and Objectives
• communicate regularly with Katie Lazich my contact at the Palouse Community School
• to communicate regularly with Sydra Cooperdock the other EEK intern so we can help each other in our work
• to work with both Katie and Sydra to create an interactive and applicable lesson to use in the classroom
• to promote more awareness around campus and within the community about EEK
• to increase the involvement of students on campus within the EEK program
This internship started off really slow because of difficulties getting in touch with a teacher at the Palouse Community School. This was initially very frustrating because I felt as if I was not getting anything substantial done. I had a good conversation with Amy Molitor, who reassured me that I was giving the effort and that was all that mattered. Trying to make that first contact was difficult because I had to wait awhile for a response. This process helped me realize some real world realities; when you are trying to work with others and put schedules together it can be really difficult at times. It was a very important lesson to realize that things were not just going to come together magically and that I needed to be patient.
The Palouse Community School, a young school in the Walla Walla community, was recommended to me by Amy Molitor. It is located in a large room below the YWCA, currently with only ten students. The ten students range from middle school to high school students. They are mostly taught in one group, occasionally separating them by age. Though they are all taught together the older students are expected to have a different quality of work. This school is a good choice for EEK because they are very flexible with lesson plans, can easily travel off campus, and have a small group of focused students.
My contact at the Palouse School was Katie Lazich, the science teacher there. We communicated over email for a while initially to make sure the school was interested in having EEK come into their classroom. We eventually met to talk about more detailed logistics of a possible classroom visit. Her students are currently studying Astronomy and will later move onto natural history, in which section the High School students will be reading The Grapes of Wrath. Due to their busy schedule there was not a regular time for me to enter their classroom. It was hard to find one time that worked for both, them, Sydra and I. Katie and I discussed some options of topics that we could cover that fit with what the students are learning. Creating a lesson that smoothly worked into the curriculum was very important to me. Some of the topics we discussed were agriculture, conservation, water issues, and local environmental issues. It was nice to get this range of broad topics to choose from, it gave us a lot of freedom. We ended up teaching about agriculture, including techniques, problems, more sustainable practices, and some local issues. Attached is a copy of our lesson plan for your reference. Our lesson plan was strongly discussion based because that seemed appropriate for their age group. The students seemed genuinely interested in our lesson, participated in discussion, and asked questions. They knew enough about agriculture to discuss but also learned a lot about the problems and more sustainable practices. It was great to have such an enthusiastic group of kids. This school is highly recommendable to future EEK members.
Palouse Community School
Katie Lazich (email@example.com)
Sydra, the other EEK intern and I worked together to try and raise awareness around campus and within the community about the EEK program. We brainstormed many ideas of how we could promote awareness and involvement about EEK. Our ideas included organizing a panel of environmental educators sponsored by EEK to inspire thought on the importance of it and possibly an interest in becoming involved in EEK. This could include community members, professors, etc. We also thought about having an informational booth at the Interest House Block Party to show our existence on campus. One last idea we came up with was to do a more interactive activity with kids from the community on campus, to create both interest in the community but also on campus. Earth Day seemed like a perfect day to hold such an activity. We had ideas of having seed planting, leaf/flower rubbing, creating art out of recyclables, etc. Though we did not end up holding any of these events of campus due to time restraints, I think they would be very important for the future of EEK. Building not only campus wide support of the program but also community support would really help to strengthen the program. Since EEK has been having a rough time with membership this it is really important to continue to get more people involved. Once EEK has more activity within it, the program can begin to flourish again. EEK is a very important program because of its goals for promoting environmental education and I would hate to see it diminish due to lack of membership.
This internship was very fun and rewarding. It was great to be part of a program that plants a seed of environmental awareness in children. Though things did not always work as smoothly as I would have hoped it was overall a great experience. It was beneficial to learn how to work with other peoples schedules, create a lesson plan, and enter the classroom. This internship is highly recommended for students interested in environmental education and creating curriculum.
Hello, my name is Anjuli, and my name is Sydra. We are from Whitman College. We are from a group that goes into classrooms in this area and teaches about environmental issues. Today we will be talking to you all about agricultural practices. It would great to get you all to participate in our discussions!
Some General Demographics:
Walla Walla Population (2005): 30,630
Employment by Agriculture: 11.6%
Number of Farms (1997): 708
Land used by Farms (1997): 714,777 acres
Average Farm Size (1997): 998 acres
1. What are some farming techniques that you know about?
2. Here we can share some general statistics about agriculture in Walla Walla. Including percentage of land used, percentage of economy, number of jobs it provides, etc.
3. Since farming is a common practice in this area, do any of you have any relatives or friends who are involved in farming? What kind? What techniques do they use?
4. What are some of the environmental effects of farming?
-pesticide and herbicide use
a. Can create contaminated run-off into surface and groundwater
b. Kills pests that destroy crop
? Till: to prepare land for the raising of crops by plowing, harrowing, etc.
a. soil loses carbon and other nutrients
b. loss of moisture
c. soil exhaustion
d. increases soil erosion and runoff
? Irrigation: bringing water from outside sources to crops
a. possibility of water shortages; wasted water
b. can cause erosion and runoff—chemical
c. channeling: diverts water, which often times becomes polluted by fertilizer runoff, thus speeding up the process of eutrophication; reduces water availability in stream
d. drip irrigation helps to reduce some of these problems
? Crop burning: burn crop residue to rid land of it and supposedly to add nutrients to the soil and regenerate the field
a. Leaches soil nutrients
b. increases loss of soil moisture
c. air pollution; generally not aesthetically pleasing
-Mono culture: planting only one crop on a farm; generally of the same genetic make-up
a. if one plant is infected, they all die
b. crop losses ability to ward off insects, pests, etc. w/o high doses of chemicals
c. often times die after one season and can’t germinate seeds
5. Why do you think these problems are important? What do they affect? (talk about how farming manipulates the land, water pollution, contamination of animals, air pollution from burning, nutrient leaching, etc.)
6. How do you think some of these problems could be prevented?
a. tree planting – buffer zones
b. less irrigation
c. drip irrigation
? Terrace or Steppe: a crop field on a hill that has boundaries in between sections of the land to reduce erosion
? Dry: when a crop is planted and does not need to be irrigated
? Drip Irrigation:
-Crop Rotation: crops are rotated between a few different areas of the farm to prevent soil exhaustion and keep it healthy
a. soil doesn’t become exhausted
b. ability to use farm land for much longer
c. organic: replenishes soil nutrients w/o fertilizers
? No-till: keep crop residue, plant seeds under residue with a disk or chisel plow which creates narrow furors in the soil?
a. holds moisture
b. decreased loss of soil nutrients
c. decreases soil erosion and runoff
-farm on a smaller scale (less money for farmers)
? techniques used (generally): no-till; crop rotation; some form of irrigation—most likely drip;
? benefits: ability to maintain soil health; possibility of organic agriculture; decreased use of pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides;
harms: less produce—less income; takes more work if abiding by more environmentally sound practices
? techniques used (generally): irrigation of some form; mono cultures (more common); dry agriculture; crop burning; terrace or steppe; till (but more recently farms are switching to no-till)
? benefits: ability for large production; money; techniques are generally less labor intensive
? harms: increased environmental degradation; high use of herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers—all the problems that go along w/ that: erosion, runoff; soil exhaustion
Do you see any problems with these more sustainable practices?
Some local issues:
Agriculture has contributed to water contamination in the area with turbidity and many chemicals such as nitrate. This can create a problem when acquiring clean drinking water. This is just one contributor within this problem.
a. Today there are 53 wineries in Walla Walla
b. Increasing tourism
c. Benefiting the economy
a. Taking land away from farmers of other crops (competition)
b. Creating more development in Walla Walla (can we handle it?)
What do you think is a good way to balance these issues?