/ AmeriCorps,

AmeriCorps Stories: Planting Seeds

By Jessie Kerr. Jessie is serving with AmeriCorps Project Conserve, a program of Conserving Carolina, as the Environmental Education Associate with Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE).

There is always a need for environmental education in Western North Carolina, especially programs designed for school-aged children. When planting the seeds of environmental stewardship, there is no better time to start than childhood. In the field of Environmental Education, educators recognize childhood as an integral starting point for cultivating environmentally conscious adults. Many of the connections and passions for the environment stem from experiences one had as a child.

In Polk County, North Carolina, there is no shortage of natural area for children to explore. However, when coupled with the guidance of a caring adult, these experiences can turn into something greater. This is where the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE) comes in. Located in Tryon, FENCE offers free curriculum-based science programming to elementary schools throughout Polk County. In addition to programming, FENCE offers the community a family-friendly natural area that features a well-developed trail system, picnic areas, and a pond. As an AmeriCorps member at FENCE, I am actively involved in the education realm of their reach.

Through my service with AmeriCorps and the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center, I am actively increasing the environmental literacy of K-5 students in elementary schools across Polk County. I teach several programs every day, each designed to actively engage students in a number of activities and related discussion. My lessons have reached over 720 students during my first month of service. My goals are to connect children to nature and encourage their curiosities of the natural world. With this goal in mind, I am engaging with students both in and out of the classroom. I am implementing a Kid’s Nature Club, and several other events, to bring the lessons that I teach in the classroom to life and to introduce concepts that miss classrooms. Working with so many children in my community has been a pleasure and I look forward to the experiences to come.

About AmeriCorps Project Conserve

Project Conserve individually places members in service with host site organizations working to protect the unique natural resources of the southern Blue Ridge Mountain region. During their terms of service members promote conservation through education, volunteerism, and direct environmental service.

AmeriCorps Project Conserve is administered by Conserving Carolina and funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in the office of Governor Roy Cooper, and the critical support of our host sites and community partners.

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