Congratulations to the host of one of our sustainable schools sites, Clear Creek Amana Middle School, who was recently awarded the Sylvan Runkel Environmental Education Award.
Clear Creek Amana is being recognized for their ongoing environmental education efforts through their newly constructed outdoor classroom and STEM building adjacent to it. Our own former Green Iowa AmeriCorps members, Regan Watts and Megan Hill, were instrumental in helping write grants for this and connecting with community partners. In addition to this, FFA members at the school and Green Iowa members Erica, Caroline, and Leah helped plant grasses and flowers in the outdoor classroom flowerbeds. The spaces were completed in 2021, and since then students have had the opportunity to learn through interacting with their environment.
Plants in the outdoor classroom are accessible for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum. Learning in nature has been proven to help students with their attention, stress, problem solving, creativity, and social interactions. The outdoor classroom provides students with these opportunities to enhance their learning experience.
The award was given through the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition (ICEC) and the Iowa Association of Naturalists (IAN). Sylvan Runkel, for whom the award is named, was a naturalist in Iowa and a promoter of conservation who co-authored five books about midwestern wildflowers. He was an expert on Iowa’s natural history and had a love for the outdoors.
This is the second year in a row that a Green Iowa AmeriCorps host site has received such an award. In 2020, Holmes Junior High School in Cedar Falls was recognized with the award for outstanding whole-school environmental education program for waste diversion efforts in the cafeteria. Learn more about composting and recycling progress being made in a recent blog post: Sustainability efforts and updates at Cedar Falls Community School District.
About the Author
Lauren serves as the education and outreach coordinator for sustainable schools at Clear Creek Amana. An Iowa native, Lauren moved from Cedar Rapids and to Iowa City to pursue her bachelor's in Environmental Planning and Policy. She is also working on getting her certificate in Sustainability and minor in Global Health Studies. In her time with Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Lauren hopes to educate students about climate change and get them to think sustainably.