Options for local educators in 14 county region to be among top priorities
(May 26, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y.—”We’re here to give educators some tools,” says Marc Edwards, the new Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Finger Lakes Institute, but more importantly “We’re here to build stewards and build advocates.” Edwards barely finished moving into his office before jumping into action. Two programs already in development: the aptly titled “Project WET,” which promotes awareness, appreciation, knowledge and stewardship of water resources and “Project WILD,” which focuses on the local ecology and has already become one of the most widely used conservation and environmental education programs among educators of students in K-12 settings.
Just what is FLI planning for educators next year? Edwards is working to give educators a “menu option” of potential activities, fieldtrips, and classroom presentations, all designed to integrate into school science curriculums and all vetted to New York State standards. This is nothing new for the Institute. High school students are already experiencing a hands-on program called “Science on Seneca” which makes use of the Colleges’ 65-foot research vessel, The William Scandling. Edwards’ job is to expand and enhance the current list of programs for grades K-12, giving students direct contact and understanding of the local ecology while also giving educators powerful new tools for the classroom.
Edwards’ goals are ambitious, but then again, so is the entire project. The Institute is committed to widening its influence as far as possible. Their mandate includes not only Hobart and William Smith Colleges or the Geneva area, but the 14 counties that make up the Finger Lakes region. Recently FLI sponsored a symposium for local winemakers, a workshop on environmentally-sound pest control and the recent reception of a delegation from Lake Balaton, Hungary, who were interested in comparing their country’s sustainable development practices with those in the United States.
The FLI has received bipartisan funding in the past year exceeding $2 million and equipment and research grants exceeding $200,000 from the National Science Foundation and Environmental Protection Agency, among others. All that remains to be seen is how quickly local schools will begin to integrate FLI initiatives into their curriculum.
Meanwhile, Edwards and the other Institute personnel are committed to starting the next school year with a bang. “It’s exciting to be on the ground-level,” Edwards said, “Developing this kind of programming…we want to make this relevant to students’ lives.” No matter what, fall 2005 will certainly bring some new opportunities for area schools.