Poland Spring Provides a Splash of Ecology for Local Students

October 7, 2009

SACO, Maine, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire/ — On Wednesday, September 30, sixth grade students from Poland, Minot, and Mechanic Falls left their classrooms behind to converge on Ferry Beach Ecology School (FBES) in Saco for a three-day science education adventure. Approximately 130 students learned ecology lessons outdoors – in the forest, on the beach and in salt marshes.

These young people experienced nature in the eight ecosystems within walking distance of the FBES campus. The program’s curriculum includes walks on the beach, weather forecasting, identifying plants and animals, star gazing at night, and even the beauty of composting food scraps.

The Poland, Minot and Mechanic Falls elementary schools are a part of RSU 16 and next year all these students will be attending the Bruce M. Whittier Middle School in Poland. RSU 16 Superintendent Dennis Duquette sees this as not only a great educational experience, but a way to introduce students to each other before they merge next fall for 7th grade. “The residential experience at Ferry Beach Ecology School allows students to engage in hands-on learning and to get to know their RSU 16 peers. Sixth graders learn to work as a team and to solve problems collaboratively. Every part of the day, whether mealtime or instructional time, provides an opportunity for students to connect with nature and with each other. It is a powerful educational experience that stays with children long after they leave Ferry Beach Ecology School.”

Duquette adds that this experience would not be possible for the students in his district if it weren’t for the financial contribution of Poland Spring Water Company. Poland Spring has been providing financial support for this program for the past nine years.

“Poland Spring has operated in the town of Poland for more than 160 years and we are very proud to invest in its people and its future,” said Plant Manager, Ray Grady. “We sponsor environmental education programs like Ferry Beach Ecology School year after year because it’s vitally important to teach kids to become good stewards of Maine’s environment. Sustainability is a core company value and we want to instill that in the next generation.”

FBES lesson plans are effective because of the creative use of skits, songs, and interactive science tools. The naturalists who teach the lessons are often found in costumes of forest animals, sea creatures, weather elements, or a variety of plants and vegetables. Students are more likely to remember the lessons learned when the information is presented in a fun and entertaining way.

FBES Executive Director, Drew Dumsch, applauds the collaboration between RSU 16 and Poland Spring. “Many schools recognize the tremendous long-term value in teaching local children about natural spaces and the wonders of nature in their own community, but their school budgets limit this type of off-campus activity. With Poland we’ve created a fantastic community partnership that benefits everyone.”

On Thursday, October 1st, Duquette and Grady joined other representatives from Poland Spring and RSU 16 for a “Lunch and Learn” program at Ferry Beach Ecology School to see first-hand what the students and teachers have been raving about for years. The VIPs joined the students and staff for lunch, toured the facility and sat in on an outdoor ecology lesson at the tide pools in Biddeford Pool.

Ferry Beach Ecology School was founded in 1998 as an independent educational nonprofit teaching the science and practice of ecology through experiential programs and publications. Each school year more than 7,000 students and adults from schools across New England attend FBES for hands-on learning in the eight ecosystems within walking distance of the school’s campus on Ferry Beach in Saco, as well as school outreach and teacher programs. FBES publishes “The ABCs of Ecology®: An Educator’s Guide to Learning Outside” and the highly acclaimed book “The Ferry Beach Field Guide: An Ecological Tour of New England’s Coastal Ecosystems.” Both publications draw heavily upon FBES’s tried and true teaching methods and innovative experiential curriculum. FBES also offers camps and programs for adults and families.

SOURCE Ferry Beach Ecology School

Source: newswire

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