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TLC partners with After-the-Bell to host students for after-school STEM-related and environmental education at a local nature preserve.
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County (TLC) strives to work against the growing trend of children's limited outdoor interaction, by providing opportunities for children of all ages and backgrounds to have meaningful, quality experiences in nature. TLC partners with After-the-Bell, an after-school program that provides middle school students in the Kennett Consolidated School District with safe, structured, and fun activities, to bring students to explore the many wonders of nature at our 300-acre sister preserve, Bucktoe Creek Preserve. Bucktoe Creek contains a diverse variety of habitats including meadows, woodlands, wetlands, and sections of the Red Clay and Bucktoe Creeks. This expansive preserve provides the perfect opportunity for After-the-Bell students to acquire hands-on and enriching environmental education experiences.
Once a week, each spring and fall, students from grades 6, 7, and 8 will be bussed to the preserve for a 90-minute field trip with their class. These programs are led by TLC’s Education Coordinator and include lessons from local environmental educators, who offer their expertise in topics such as apiculture (beekeeping), botany, ornithology, herpetology, and permaculture. Each session will revolve around a new topic relating to natural phenomena that can be found at Bucktoe Creek Preserve. These topics include Ecosystems, Herpetology, Migration, Pollinators/Insects, Pond Study, Monarchs, Stream Study, Hawk Watch, Structural Adaptations, and Habitat Hikes. Each session will include a brief introduction on the topic, followed by a hike and hands-on learning. Through these ten sessions, TLC provides outdoor learning activities that complement the in-class teachings for the Pennsylvania Environment and Ecology Academic Standards.
TLC’s partnership with After the Bell gets the students of Kennett Middle School out of the classroom and in to the woods, while providing activities that make learning fun and impactful. Each lesson provides context for discussions about broad ecological concepts; for example, lifting up a rock in a creek to view macro-invertebrates during can begin a discussion about water quality, pollution, and even the history of the Lenape tribes who relied on the creek for survival. With each hands-on activity, participants learn problem-solving skills, teamwork, and collaboration. This program has proven to be a great way to provide quality environmental education, while at the same time instilling a deep and long-lasting connection to the outdoor world.
Kennett Consolidated School District and After the Bell