201-4 Soil to Seed: A 4-H School Enrichment Curriculum for High School.

See more from this Division: ASA Section: Education & Extension
See more from this Session: Train the Trainer: K-12 Lessons for Soils, Crops and Agronomy
Tuesday, October 18, 2011: 2:11 PM
Henry Gonzalez Convention Center, Room 214A
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Elizabeth Driscoll and Melanie McCaleb, Department of Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Our soil and water natural resources provide ecosystem services such as drinking water and soils for growing food, fiber, and filtering pollutants. Public misconceptions find the aforementioned services to be free, invulnerable, and infinitely available. Through urbanization and other industrial abuse, our water and soil are becoming increasingly compromised. Approximately 1.7-1.9 billion m of the storage areas of reservoirs and lakes are permanently filled each year with sediment.  Erosion related pollutants cost the country approximately 3.2-13 billions dollars per year, and another 500 million dollars annually just to remove sediment from harbors, rivers and other waterways (Fifield, 2004).  

The project, ‘Soil to Seed: Protecting Water Quality through Soil Erosion and Sediment Control’ seeks to involve young people in actively identifying water quality issues impacted by soil erosion and sedimentation within their community using an experiential learning approach. The project has been designed to weave together environmental education objectives with interactive lessons on soil erosion that utilize the surrounding school campus as a situated learning environment.  Students explore concepts in soil erosion and sediment control in a real-world context that build a number of important skills including problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and responsibility.

The project began as a series of day camps within targeted urban and rural counties in North Carolina. 4-H youth with an interest in environmental science participated and served as a pilot students for the initial testing of ideas. The youth actively provided feedback that allowed the shaping of their experiences into concrete lessons. Working with additional rural and urban schools, over one-hundred high school students and teachers piloted the refined ideas and offered suggestions and improvements. Lessons range from teaching youth fundamentals of soil erosion and sedimentation, to identifying and measuring soil properties, and analyzing water quality issues and other important life skills. The curriculum includes background materials to enhance the content capacity of teachers, assessments to verify student learning and understanding, and additional ideas to extend concepts in the classroom or home environment.

Data compiled from surveys completed by participating students in the pilot study showed an overall increase (15%) in their knowledge content for the subject, as well as a change in their current practices and behaviors towards protecting the environment.  This shift was also observed and noted in their attitudes; ability to help others, setting goals, making decisions, and other learner-centered behaviors.

See more from this Division: ASA Section: Education & Extension
See more from this Session: Train the Trainer: K-12 Lessons for Soils, Crops and Agronomy
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