Two local elementary schools will be visiting Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center this Spring thanks to a unique grant opportunity. Last November, Sarah Dunham-Miliotis, Director of Educational Programs at Prescott Farm, reached out to her statewide network of schools, advertising not only the myriad of environmental education programs available for schools at the facility, but also a grant opportunity being offered by New Hampshire Environmental Educators (NHEE), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for high quality environmental education in New Hampshire. NHEE’s new field trip funding program “We NHEEd to Get Outside!” was designed to help educators around the state with transportation funding for field trips, as school and nonprofit budgets tighten up, to allow students to get outside.
Prescott Farm’s school programs are designed not only to engage students in the world around them through hand-on experiential learning, but to supplement the K-8 curriculum by aligning their programs with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and/or NH Social Studies Frameworks – allowing educators to truly integrate a fun field trip to enhance and reinforce lessons from the classroom.
“Prescott Farm offers amazing educational programming for students, but transportation costs often stand in the way of schools accessing those programs,” says Sarah Dunham-Miliotis, Program Director at Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center. “These grants from the NH Environmental Educators really opens the doors for more schools.”
According to nhee.org, the program was a huge success, with more than 20 schools and organizations from all over the state applying for funding to support field trips. NHEE funded 10 trips, which will provide close to 800 students with meaningful, experiential education opportunities in the outdoors, two of which are to Prescott Farm here in Laconia.
Nicole Hauswirth’s kindergarten class from Woodsville Elementary School will have the chance to take part in Prescott Farm’s “Wildlife Tracking” program this Spring, which includes an introduction to animal tracking and a chance for hands-on tracking experience on Prescott Farm’s 160 acres of forest and fields on White Oaks Road in Laconia. Their teacher, Nicole Hauswirth, explains, “our kindergarten classes will be learning about how animals survive in the winter. We will be learning about animals that hibernate or migrate, and animal adaptations. Students will learn about the homes animals make for themselves in order to help them survive the harsh winter weather and how they prepare for winter. Students will be examining animal tracks and learning how to identify which animals the tracks belong to. Additionally, students will learn how our actions can impact these animals and their populations.”
Mountain Village Charter School in Plymouth, NH was also awarded a grant, and has planned a trip to Prescott Farm in March for its 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders to take part in the Maple Sugaring program, which is also open to the public every Saturday in March. Students will learn about the parts of a tree, the history of maple sugaring, the some local economics, and get to experience the process themselves. Dawn Grant explained that this trip is meaningful to her students because “we are located in an area that is mostly pine forest. In February/March, we will be doing a unit on the parts of a tree and their functions, focusing on maple trees in NH. With our philosophy on a hands-on experiential approach to education, we would like our students to be able to witness and experience maples up close.”