Inspiring stewardship through social media
Washtenaw Audubon Society understands that you have to be creative get young people’s attention. That’s why they partnered with the Leslie Science and Nature Center to utilize technology, social media, and hands-on exploration to inspire stewardship and contribute to academic achievement among Michigan’s urban youth.
For inspiration, the students (from three public charter schools in Detroit) traveled to the Leslie Science and Nature Center, in Ann Arbor, where they explored a restored prairie and a natural wooded area, learned how to identify and remove invasive species, gardened with native plants, met native animals, observed rehabilitated raptors, and conducedt an ecological survey of a vernal pond.
At the pond, additional student scientists from southeast Michigan appeared in digital video “Pondcasts” every other week, to document species and seasonal changes there. “Pondcasts” were posted publicly on the worldwide web, to raise awareness of the importance of this habitat type and the threats it faces.
Several times during the school year, participating classes had the opportunity to take part in “Stewardship Webcasts” which included live interviews with environmental scientists and experts in local natural area as a precursor to various citizen science initiatives.
These lessons have led to charging the schools with identifying an environmental issue in their community and implementing stewardship projects to preserve and restore habitat and improve water quality in the local community.