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Grant to bolster environmental education earns statewide honor

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (April 19, 2007) -- A successful grant directed by Ohio University-Chillicothe Instructor of Geography Gary Haynes has been recognized by the Ohio Environmental Education Fund as an outstanding project. Independent reviewers determined that Haynes' project, "What's Around Me and Why? Application of the Scientific Method to Study One's Environment," met the agency's highest standards of excellence and effectiveness in environmental education.

The project, which spanned from January 2003 through August 2005, was designed to bolster environmental education in Ross County classrooms for students in grades kindergarten through high school. The $50,000 grant offered valuable educational outreach to area schools, while also welcoming input from those using the resources.

"County school teachers helped develop the program and decided what materials to include," Haynes said. "The program is designed to bridge the gap between the general information that is provided in textbooks with information specific to the region."

Trunks containing $2,000 worth of environmental education resources such as videos, environmental test kits, maps, aerial photographs, GPS units and lesson plans were distributed to all Ross County school districts. Further, a continuing education program was offered to interested county teachers.

More than 3,300 students made use of the educational material provided to the classrooms, and 15 teachers participated in the 30-month training program.

"Teachers were instrumental in developing the traveling trunks of information and preparing lesson plans that were customized for the Ross County area. Care was taken to ensure that all learning activities were designed to dovetail with state academic standards," Haynes said.

"Our location provides a natural setting for environmental studies," Haynes said. "Ross County offers various topography variables such as glaciated and non-glaciated areas, land-use changes, water quality and watersheds, different soil types and suburban sprawl. There are few better places to study environmental topics and their impact."

Primary collaborators in the grant program included OU-C Coordinator of Continuing Education Jodie Van Winkle, who coordinated the continuing education component, Judi Minion of Ross County Litter Control and Recycling, Julie Brown of Ross County Soil and Water Conservation District and former OU-C staff member Susan Leggings.

Although the grant activity period has ended, the program's benefits continue. The initiative led to an annual environmental workshop for teachers from around the state, and Ohio University-Chillicothe continues to offer graduate credit workshops each spring and summer in response to teacher demand.

"The impetus behind the grant proposal was to provide community outreach and utilize OU-C's and the area's resources in furthering environmental education," Haynes said. "We now have a corps of educators using the trunks and thousands of dollars worth of resources devoted to environmental education. Additionally, teachers throughout the county are better environmental educators. In all, it has been a successful project."

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Media Contact: Jack Jeffery, (740) 707-1368 or jefferyj@ohio.edu

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