Old Mission Peninsula School (OMPS) is fortunate to have a pond and an environmental laboratory on their school campus and the GTSI Team at OMPS introduced students to the wonders of the pond this spring!
Teachers Alisha Vanderford, Weslee Smith, and Patricia Schneider decided that their students were going to become stewards of the watershed and the natural resources that surrounded them, and so they set out on a year-long mission to help students become OMPS Pond Rangers who would lead others in good stewardship practices.
Their year long plan began with a trip to the Bioneers Conference in the fall so that students could be inspired by the environmental messages of singer/songwriter Joe Riley. The auditorium was filled with GTSI students who were invited to dance and sing along to songs about taking care of the earth and all it’s life.
The OMPS GTSI students went on to study watersheds and attended a NEST program at the Boardman River Nature Center to reinforce the stewardship concepts that they continued to study all year.
They worked with MSU graduate and artist, Janelle Dahlberg who used google earth images of the OMPS pond and a unique funnel painting technique to help students create an art piece that would represent the Elzner Pond in Four Seasons. Their art now hangs on the wall at the entrance of Old Mission Peninsula School.
Students learned how to guide others on a sensory immersion experience called Earth Walks and made props to enhance the experience for others that they would lead at the end of the school year.
On Earth Day, the students headed out to give their campus and pond a good cleaning and raking. Not only were they encouraging others to care for the earth, they were preparing for the spring events to come.
Old Mission Peninsula School has some incredible alumni staff members who are still very involved with the school and with the students. The GTSI team asked these teachers to return to OMPS and help them learn about the history and the biology of the pond. Karen McClatchey worked with students in the Jr. Master Gardener’s program and came to help students learn about the ecosystems around the pond. Terry Smith, now an educational volunteer at the Mission Peninsula Lighthouse, taught students about the history of the pond and the tips for guiding others on tours of the pond. Mary Manner worked at OMPS at the Science Specialist and she came to immerse students in a study of what lives in and around the pond.
On a beautiful spring day in late May GTSI students were involved in five rotating stations lead by alumni staff and the GTSI team. Students were immersed in hands-on activities that taught them about the history of their school, the OMPS pond, and a deeper understanding of what it means to be stewards of the natural world.
At the end of the school year, the OMPS Pond Rangers were leading other students on tours of the pond so that they could pass what they had learned about stewardship on to others.
Old Mission Peninsula School is in the process of becoming a STEM school focused on using their curriculum to teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The entire school will be involved in GTSI during the 2013-2014 school year because place-based educational opportunities meet their STEM goals.
The Old Mission Peninsula Elzer Pond and Outdoor Laboratory will be seeing more action next year as students from OMPS go out to learn more about their world.