Over the course of six weeks, the Nebraska Children blog has invited Jeff Cole, Associate Vice President of School-Community Partnerships for Beyond School Bells, to write some guest posts sharing his program’s work.
In addition to supporting a wide variety of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming in Nebraska’s afterschool and summer programs, a topic I explored in my last post, Beyond School Bells (BSB) is also very excited to support the rise of environmental education opportunities.
From Sidney to Omaha, environmental concepts and student-centered projects are finding fertile ground within Nebraska’s growing array of school-based and community-powered Expanded Learning Opportunity (ELO) programs.
Thanks to partnerships between school-based afterschool programs and strong community partners such as the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the Audubon Society, Nebraskans for Civic Reform, and others, participating youth in many Nebraska communities are able to participate in hands-on learning projects that empower them to become engaged and inspired environmental problem solvers.
Through these environmental education programs, participating youth also have new opportunities to interact with environmental professionals who love their work and share their passion for environmental inquiry and problem-solving — helping youth develop their identities as future STEM problem solvers. Getting the chance to expand their horizons and explore career paths in the environmental sector is an important component of these programs.
In the this week’s video, we tried to capture some of the energy that environmental education is bringing to ELO programs and illustrate the types of partnerships that are powering these important learning opportunities across Nebraska.