Climate Action
For Educators

Addressing Climate Change through Education

Posted by Ryan Morra
Professional Development Affiliate

As average temperatures, weather patterns, and the arrival of songbirds are changing, so is the “climate” of education. Throughout the country, education is recognizing and embracing place-based learning as a powerful way to engage students in hands-on, meaningful experiences that advance sustainability.

This May, as part of this shifting educational climate, we will be welcoming teachers of all grade levels from around the Northeast for a year-long professional development program offered by Shelburne Farms in partnership with Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park.

The program, A Forest for Every Classroom (FFEC) has engaged over a dozen cohorts of teachers since its inception in 2001. The learning environment gets teachers digging into soils, measuring forest biodiversity, and engaging with professionals in the field. Why? To empower them as effective place-based educators committed to Education for Sustainability.

This next cohort will benefit from some additional -- and timely -- content. We’re bringing climate change to the forefront of our collective learning. We’ll explore how natural systems are adapting to a changing climate. And people, too. How are humans responding to longer and warmer growing seasons, intermittent periods of flooding and droughts, and an inconsistent sugaring season?  

At the heart of this learning is understanding that we can experience tangible evidence of climate change around us when we pay attention to nature. As we witness the bloom of spring wildflowers, measure winter snowpack, or wade into wetlands, we will see how the natural world is already adapting to a changing climate.

Each educator will adapt their existing curricula to engage students in learning outside of the classroom. They’ll also design service-learning experiences that empower students to make a difference in their home community.

FFEC will meet in locations around Vermont in every season in order to explore what it means to teach with place in mind. The learning journey begins here at the Farm in May. We’re looking forward to hearing the calls of red-winged blackbirds, watching the buds burst on trees in the forest, and cooking up some of the wild edibles we can forage in a finally thawing landscape.  

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