Environmental educators from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and the James River Park System are thrilled to be working together to bring an after-school program to Richmond Public Schools (RPS) students next year. Middle school students that pick the STEM based program will experience learning outdoors and examine what role they play in their community to protect the James River. Thanks to a recent grant to the Alliance, funded by NAAEE and NOAA, the educators will run the program through the 21st Century Community Learning Center partner, NextUp RVA. The program has unique features including a TopoBox and a visit to see the Science on a Sphere!

This is a timely opportunity as many schools are faced with tough choices about how to operate under COVID-19 restrictions while still meeting the needs of their student population and RPS is no exception. This grant highlights learning outdoors and can help schools expand the use of their school grounds as they start to reimagine classroom spaces. According to the eeGuidance for Reopening Schools, “Environmental and outdoor education programs in communities can be leveraged to provide additional learning opportunities that are aligned with standards, as well as added learning spaces for students during this pandemic.”

Each year for the past three years, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay has continued to build their RiverWise Schools program through training teachers, educating students and installing projects. This grant is just the latest in a series that specialize in bringing award-winning watershed education to the urban student population in Richmond, VA.