Students Lead the Charge: Wicomico 6th Graders Address Environmental Issues Close to Home

Students gather around their teacher on the lawn of their school grounds.

Students Gather around science teacher, Jamie Eakin, while conducting wildlife surveys of their school grounds. Students do short bird point-counts, then catalogue areas of the school where they can find food and shelter sources for birds.

This article was originally published in the Pickering Creek Audubon Center 2019-2020 Newsletter.

Throughout the month of May, Wicomico County 6th graders found themselves discovering a new part of the Eastern Shore on their spring field trip to Pickering Creek Audubon Center. Part of Pickering Creek’s Audubon Chesapeake Exploration (ACE) program, the field experience provided an opportunity for students to roll over logs looking for beetles, sweep insect nets through the meadow, and wade into the freshwater wetlands that teem with minnows, tadpoles, dragonfly larvae and more. The field trips were one part of a multi-lesson Meaningful Watershed Education Experience. The project is a partnership between the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education & Training Program and Pickering Creek Audubon Center. The ACE program seeks to provide an opportunity for students to investigate and address the driving question- How do humans impact wildlife populations in Chesapeake Bay ecosystems?

Pickering Creek begins a second year of working with Wicomico County’s 6th graders in September 2019. Following the pilot year that focused on two schools, PCAC will work alongside 6th grade science teachers to roll out the program in all five Wicomico County Middle Schools and their 50 6th grade classrooms over the course of the 2019-2020 school year.

Pickering educators and Wicomico teachers alike are looking forward to bringing student voice to the forefront of the learning process, with students having more say in what issue they choose to focus on that is important to their communities and themselves. After meeting in July to plan for the new school year, teachers walked away with a plethora of new resources and ideas for how to have students engaged and leading environmental investigations and the development of an action plan to address the issues they find.

In its entirety, the ACE program will engage each of the 1,100 Wicomico County 6th grade science students in multiple in-class and field lessons. Between September and May, Pickering educators will visit the classroom and the students will visit Pickering Creek. Throughout the process, PCAC educators will work closely with Wicomico teachers to provide guidance as students investigate issues that they discover around their communities, use democratic decision making processes to narrow down their focus and then work collaboratively to create a multi-faceted action plan to address the root cause of their chosen issue, spread awareness and become engaged with policy makers and stakeholders.

Learn more about Pickering Creek Audubon Center by visiting their website!