Wild Earth is currently working closely in collaboration with the Kingston and Ellenville School Districts to provide nature immersion experiences that engage students in cultivating character and confidence, growing social and emotional health and well-being, and encouraging leadership oriented toward community service.
If you’re a school leader interested in this kind of project, please contact our Executive Director, David Brownstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2015, Wild Earth began a partnership with the Kingston City School District, and in 2017 launched the 4-year KMS-NCEE project. Through this project, Wild Earth aims to enhance the social and emotional growth of students in Kingston City School District’s two middle schools through a combination of engaging and caring adult mentors and carefully cultivated activities and experiences to promote character building, resilience, and community development. This year, the KMS-NCEE project will provide each of over 1,600 middle school students with more than 50 days and up to 89 hours of Wild Earth programming through four component parts, which include:
Through engaging outdoor experiences, students are introduced to Wild Earth staff and programming. Day-long fall trips to an offsite wilderness area are offered to all 5th and 6th grade students. Led by nine Wild Earth instructors, students participate in a range of small group activities designed to promote deep immersion into the outdoors, and focus on team building and school unity. Spring trips take place on school grounds, showcasing the urban wilderness and providing an experiential connection to science curriculum. This year, Wild Earth will also test the effect of extended wilderness experiences for at-risk students.
Over the course of 16 weeks (6 weeks in the fall and 10 weeks in the spring), Wild Earth staff conduct guided recess activities three times per week in each middle school. Each day, students are met with seven Wild Earth instructors who provide personal attention and foster the continued building of trusting mentoring relationships. During guided recess, instructors offer students a range of optional, choice-based activities designed to foster team building, healthy risk taking, access to nature, and a constructive outlet for students’ midday energy. Activities change from week to week to provide variety, and may include a nature museum, juggling, drumming, weaving with natural materials, learning about wildflowers, or a fast-moving ball game.
Operating concurrently with the 16 weeks of guided recess, Wild Earth’s after-school program is reserved for students wanting and needing after-school engagement and extra support. The program is held during the regular after-school activity period, enabling participants to access the late-bus for transportation home. After-school activities mirror those at guided recess, promoting deeper engagement and outdoor learning in the woods and gardens surrounding the schools, and strengthening mentoring relationships between students and Wild Earth instructors.
This trip for school teachers and administrators offers staff an opportunity to experience many of the same activities their students receive through Wild Earth. The focus is on building staff unity while demonstrating Wild Earth’s connection-based teaching methods and strategies, as well as how they can be applied in the classroom.
Wild Earth’s model is focused on: 1) creating circumstances in which learning can happen naturally; 2) gently guiding students’ attention to the most valuable lessons; 3) feeding students’ natural curiosity to build their confidence in their own ideas; and 4) valuing both failure and success as critical elements of learning. In line with this model, our goals for the KMS-NCEE project are:
– To enhance the inner character of participants, through activities that enhance gratitude, empathy, curiosity, passion, and purpose;
– To improve the social health and well-being of participants, through activities that encourage positive behavior and enhance authentic connection and relationship-building; and
– To regenerate healthy and whole communities – including the classroom community and school community – by encouraging participants to practice strong leadership oriented towards community service and citizenship, including becoming leaders within Wild Earth.