Rebecca Inver

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By Emily Hart, 2014 Environmental Education Program Coordinator:

I’m excited for my first summer at Courageous as the Environmental Education Program Coordinator. We’ve had a great first week!

We have two initiatives this summer to encourage staff and students to take positive actions on environmental issues: Meatless Monday and Waste-Free Wednesday. On Mondays, students in each step will receive one point for a lunch without beef, pork, poultry or fish, and on Wednesdays, students will receive one point for a lunch that produces zero waste (reusable containers, real silverware, cloth napkin, lunchbox or canvas bag). Waste and pollution from livestock production contributes to global climate change and damages ocean ecosystems, so we’re excited to help students learn how they can make small changes that have big impacts on their own health and the health of the oceans. Waste-Free Wednesday is in its second summer and it’s great to continue the conversation on how trash from land ends up in the ocean.

This week in the summer youth sailing school, we talked about crustaceans and jellies! We played crab tag and Invasive Species Web of Life to learn more about how the invasive Asian shore crab is affecting ecosystems here in Boston Harbor. In the Summer Learning Program, we explored the simple machines on sailboats, made windmills and used energy from the sun to cook s’mores in solar ovens! Imagine smiling faces and sticky chocolate fingers. I’m excited to work with the Instructors in Training (IITs) to give them a broad base in environmental issues (this week we learned about waste!) and to develop a related service-learning project over the coming weeks. 

in Green
The Wallace Foundation Summer Learning Demonstration: Boston Public Schools/Boston After School and Beyond

This year, the Courageous Summer Youth Program participated in the Summer Learning Project (SLP) for the second year.  This program is part of a national study to help reduce summer learning loss and Courageous is lucky to be part of a great network of other nonprofits in Boston. Organizations currently participating in SLP include: Tenacity, Thompson Island Outward Bound, Ponkapoag Outdoor Center, Hale Reservation, YMCA Boston, and Boys and Girls Club Boston.

SLP works with rising 4th graders from Boston Public Schools who are identified as being at risk for summer learning loss.  Throughout the five-week program, students study at school in the morning, then join us at our sailing center in Charlestown or Jamaica Pond.  While at the sailing center with us, students learn marine biology in an experiential, hands-on setting before heading out on the water on one of our Rhodes 19 sailboats.  Through investigation based learning, the students explore a range of scientific topics including life cycles, aquatic ecosystems, and damage caused by environmental pollution and oil spills.  Each lesson includes a literary component as well as an engaging activity that employs our surroundings as a living classroom.

The students that participate in our program have been selected because assessments identify them as being in a vulnerable population, academically. For many of our kids, factors including learning challenges, language barriers and behavioral control, significantly impede their access to comprehending and engaging with new material. Unfortunately, these students can eventually become very discouraged by repeated attempts to make progress. Often, they come to internalize this condition, and may even give up trying at all. 

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