Mini Grant: EcoliteracySCHOOL
What do you do when your project is based on experiential learning in an outdoor, communal setting and a pandemic changes everything? If you’re the EcoliteracySCHOOL (Students Collaborating in Health-Oriented Outdoor Learning) in Rochester, Minnesota, you adapt and find your new path equally fruitful!
EcoliteracySCHOOL is an opportunity that engages undergraduate students in public health leadership by providing mentorship to high school students interested in the health sciences. In a typical year, this includes a three-day environmental and public health immersion event at Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota’s picturesque North Shore. When 2020 turned out to be anything but typical, the team looked into ways this valuable learning experience could continue. To do this, they created Field Kits that brought (mostly reusable!) equipment and supplies right to the learner, including clip-on phone microscopes, seed growing materials, and books on mosses and community health.
The Field Kits were a wild success! They brought the “think, pair, share” pedagogy to life in an accessible way and also allowed learners to connect with their own unique space and share diverse individual experiences with their groups, expanding the perspectives heard for all learners. Having access to the materials also provided a valuable flexibility for learners, allowing them to participate at times and in ways that worked best for them and allowing them to dig into topics of particular interest. Watch a fun video on planting by student Angelica Cruz!
EcoliteracySCHOOL has decided to continue and even expand the Field Kits to give learners a variety of experiences through multiple years in the program, while also returning to their in-person activities.