Congratulations to Debbie Brooks and Cary Woods Elementary School in Auburn, the 2011 Best Environmental Education Program (BEEP) award winner! This prestigious award is given by the Environmental Education Association of Alabama each year to an outstanding program in Alabama that demonstrates excellence in environmental education.
Ms. Brooks, Principal of Cary Woods, worked closely with her faculty and students, the surrounding community, Alabama Water Watch (AWW), the City of Auburn, and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System to enhance her students’ learning experiences. She submitted a grant application titled ‘Respect, Replace and Restore- the 3 R’s of Cary Woods Elementary Outdoor Environment Project’ to the Saugahatchee Watershed Management Plan (SWaMP), an ADEM/EPA-funded project directed by AWW that promotes environmental efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution of surface waters. Efforts included the installation of on-the-ground projects and enhancement of environmental education.
AWW and City of Auburn staff show students different methods for monitoring streams
With the grant, Cary Woods School implemented several environmental projects, including:
- installation of a rain garden to intercept polluted stormwater runoff from surrounding lawns and parking lots,
- installation of a rainwater harvest system from the school’s roof for use in watering of the lawns, shrubs and school garden plots,
- renovation of the school’s nature trail, which leads down to a local stream behind the school, where the students conduct water quality and stream bioassessment exercises (with the aid of AWW personnel and a local citizen volunteer monitoring group, Save Our Saugahatchee),
- training Cary Woods teachers in the Exploring Alabama’s Living Streams curriculum for use in their science classrooms, and
- conducting a community fair to showcase the school’s efforts and educate the neighborhood on resource conservation and environmental stewardship.
Student poster on rainwater harvest at school’s Community Fair
The BEEP award will be presented to the Cary Woods Elementary School at the Environmental Education Association of Alabama’s Annual Conference at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia.