Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Know a Great Teacher?

You know the kind I mean. Loves kids, and loves teaching. The kind of teacher who encourages students to believe that they are special, and that they can do and accomplish anything.

The kind of person who, through their positive influence on kids, shapes the future.

That is the kind of teacher that we at Earth Explore work hard the entire year to find.  They're out there.  As parents we know them instinctively.  Our kids talk about them.  Love their classes.  Remember them fondly, as do we.  Through experience we know that this kind of teacher will help students to blossom on their away from home learning experiences. 

So if you know of someone like that, and most of us parents do, then do us both a favor and tell them about Earth Explore Adventures at http://www.earthexplore.com/. We provide rewarding opportunities for teachers to venture outside the classroom with their very own students, to share spectacular places and experiences with those kids, and learn and grow right alongside them. 

One of my favorite things all year is to witness this in action.  When I get the chance to join one of our groups, whether it be in Alaska, or Costa Rica, or Jackson, Wyoming...I see teachers and students interacting in ways not always seen in the classroom.  Relaxed, excited about what's to come, and loving every minute of it.  There is no pressure to learn, or to teach, or to have fun.  It just happens. 

Our teachers earn professional development credit on their trips.  Important for their careers, and for the requirements of many school districts.  But I'll bet they'd tell you that's not why they decided to do Earth Explore.  No, it was more likely the chance to travel and learn, and to see their students reinvented belore their eyes, and in turn, be reinvented in their students' eyes. 

Reinvented as someone who just loves learning.  Period.  And loves to mentor and encourage kids to learn as well.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bio Gem of Costa Rica

We at Earth Explore are excited to be expanding our programs south in 2010, to the rich and environmentally important nation of Costa Rica.  Home to critical world biomes, Costa Rica is beautiful and educationally rich.  But it is also much more than simply a showplace of luxuriant tropical life.

In a place blessed with such a rich array of nature's splender, something rather unusual in human history has taken place.  This small nation has taken aggressive steps to lock it's jewels away from rampant and uncontrolled development...the kind that has despoiled environmental treasures in too many other places.  The nation has been aggressive in promoting sustainability...and hopes to become the world's first carbon neutral nation.  National Reserves and Parks, many arising from, or supported by private donations, have sprung up everywhere.  There is a push for eco friendly development and tourism; very good signs for the future.

But the picture is not all rosy.  Pressures to open coastlines to oil and gas exploration and drilling, and exploit virgin rainforest for timber and mining are ramping up.  All too easily, this small nation could be directed down the path seen so often in the tropics; of slash and burn and quick profit.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has named Costa Rica a world Bio Gem...and is encouraging action to keep it safe, wild, and beautiful.  We believe sustainable tourist development and visitation can help to provide a solid economic base to counter the lure of quick profit through exploitation of natural resources.

What do you think?  If you're interested in the issue, go and learn more about the NRDC's Bio Gems, by visiting http://www.savebiogems.org/costarica/


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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scenes from the Summer




Myself and the rest of the EE staff are still checking out pictures from this past summer's adventures. The photo contest winners will be posted soon. For now though, here are a few scenes I'd like to share. These kids will be going forward with a new understanding of the importance of the Earth's fragile environments, and their own power to make positive change.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Power of Active

It used to be that it was enough just to get outside. We remember it as kids. Get a little dirty, connect to nature a bit, and get back to your life. But today, young people don’t have it so easy. It’s becoming clear that if the onrushing generation is to turn around the myriad of global challenges we face, they must not only get outside, but also carry what they learn with them always.

We’re talking here about environmental education, and, no, I don’t mean tree hugging. It’s clear that no isolated movement, no fractional part of our global community getting on board, will be enough. These days we have a challenge to make it both cool and mainstream for young people to connect to nature, advocate for their planet, and not just view it from the window of an SUV.

The good news is that change is happening. An awareness is slowly emerging that "green" doesn’t have to be an extremist view. That what we need is everyone advocating in their own way for this small piece of cosmic real estate that we share.

We see the change every day when students take to the field. When they see a chunk of glacial ice fall from the front of the Exit Glacier in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park, it’s no academic exercise. It’s a real experience of the importance of what is happening, and informs in a gut-level way that no DVD or textbook can. When students witness bleaching of pristine corals off the Kona coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, or hear about tundra changes in Alaska’s Denali Park, they know that this is real, that the world is changing, but also that they have the power to help shape the future.

Active is good. More than that, getting kids active is an essential part of what will help us turn the corner to make this generation, and future ones, different from our own. In the past two decades operating hands-on programs, we’ve found time and again that "doing" leaves a deeper, more lasting impact that hearing, or seeing. The old truism that "what touches the hand reaches the mind" is something that can’t be denied. And doing it is a powerful force for motivation and change. Maybe the best tool that we have.

I for one am optimistic about this generation. Inspiration and idealism is certainly not a thing of the past. Young people energized through active experiences in nature are a powerful force for real change. Among our students we’ve seen it inspire leadership, and advocacy. Our students have gone on to share their experiences with friends and family, and incorporate the knowledge gained into their lives.

There is an urgency now that never existed before, of course, but it is a challenge that I believe young people can handle. If I feel like getting inspired and hopeful, I know what to do. I join a group of young people mixing it up with nature. I always come back in a better mood.

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