Outdoor Classroom teaches map skills and fly casting, too.
In celebration of Earth Day, Sharon Central School students (Grades 1-8) and local volunteers took part in a day-long planting project to help restore the banks of the Salmon Creek in Salisbury on Tuesday, April 24. Organized by Trout Unlimited (TU) and the Housatonic Valley Association (HVA), students planted native trees and shrubs such as Sycamore, Elderberry and Dogwood to buffer and stabilize the creek bank. Taking a break from the physical work, they also engaged in hands-on learning activities about watershed science, mapping & GPS skills, fly fishing, and ways to care for our local environment. An “eco art” station let kids build small boats from bark, pinecones, sticks, horsetails, cattails and other natural materials, then race them down the rapids.
Organizers used the event to showcase the power of “place-based” learning. Place-based education increases students’ sense of stewardship and environmental consciousness and strengthens their attachment to their community. Experiences outside of the classroom help kids connect textbook learning to the world around them.
“We hope that being out here, learning outdoors and getting to know their local watershed will inspire kids to make good decisions and connect them to where they live,” said Tracy Brown, Northeastern Restoration Coordinator for Trout Unlimited.
“A lot of kids aren’t aware of the types of jobs you can have helping the environment,” said Stacy Demmings, GIS Manager with HVA. “They get so excited to learn that they can do fun things like make maps, plant trees and be outside as a career someday.”
Teams of volunteers from local businesses Salisbury Bank & Trust Co. and BD Canaan also highlighted their companies’ commitment to the environment and community, helping with planting and keeping the kids on-task.
For the past six years, Trout Unlimited has partnered with the local community and private landowners to complete the Salmon Creek Enhancement and Restoration Project with funds secured from the GE Natural Resource Damages (NRD) fund. Planting buffer areas of shrubs and trees along riverbanks is a restoration technique that improves both habitat and water quality. Plant roots provide bank stability and filter the water entering the river zone. The plants shade to the creek and contribute nutrients and insects to the waterway. The long-term goal of the Salmon Creek project is to improve habitat for native and wild trout, which benefits all of the wildlife – and fishing enthusiasts – throughout the Housatonic Valley watershed
Funding for the event was provided by Salisbury Bank, Becton Dickinson, the Oppenheimer Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited and HVA.